As Stephen Covey has said ‘Start with the end in mind
Technology changes so fast! What’s hot today is obsolete tomorrow. It’s really not possible to keep up with what’s new all the time–even for someone like me who works with it every day.
The need to have a technology plan for the small business has never been more important. The first step is to understand what technology does, or can do for your business. It’s not about the devices–it’s not about software, it’s not about the hardware. The purpose of the plan is to ensure that human and technological resources are used in ways that best support the strategies, goals and processes of the organization. An information system and technology plan must therefore mesh with organization’s overall strategic interests, and it must also serve the interests of the units being served by the system.
The business drivers that dictate an organization’s IT strategy, paired with insight into how success is measured in terms of profits, new business acquisition, depth-of-product sales or customer retention.
Forecasting what hardware and software your business needs to remain competitive requires planning and organization. You also need to generate a plan to maintain your environment, train your staff and support all employees who use the technology in their daily tasks.
The steps to developing your customized technology plan should include the following:
Step 1: Assess your company needs. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is an effective technique used to develop the company technology plan to effectively to address their business challenges. Gather your requirements from every level of your business. Establish the operational metrics associated with your IT environment. For example, set goals for computer server performance, network availability and software application reliability.
Step 2: Choose technology that can grow and change with your company and that supports your strategic objectives. Use templates, tools and resources to help you decide how much you can spend on technology investments.
Step 3: Evaluate software and hardware products according to your needs. Ensure that any software you purchase is compatible with your hardware technology solution platform.
Step 4: Develop a disaster readiness plan to cope with emergencies. If you depend on your technology to run your business every day of the week, you may need to establish a backup site so that you can run your operation in another location in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Evaluate your options and develop a viable plan.
Step 5: Arrange for support services, such as installation, upgrades and troubleshooting for your business technology solutions. Ensure that operations such as accounting, sales, inventory, order fulfillment and shipping can proceed without disruption during maintenance. Establish a robust security plan to ensure company data is protected. Provide training and support to your employees. Ensure additions to your IT environment integrate well with existing software and hardware.
Step 6: Establish a policy and procedure for employees to follow when requesting new hardware and software to supplement your company’s main investment. Allocate a budget for buying office supplies such as ink cartridges and paper for your printers.
A well planned technology manifesto definitely gives any business a competitive edge, consolidated inputs and strategies causing faster awareness of future problems and opportunities. Implementation of systems and technology subsequently in a planned and coordinated fashion would save costs, contribute to organization development of skills required and significantly assist in speedier growth and decision implementation.
By Poonam Sagar, certified PMP, Technology and Online Media Consultant at PT Infotech Solutions (www.infotech.co.id) an international IT firm empowering media broadcasters, content providers and distributors to optimize business processes with integrated, scalable and optimized IT solutions.