To some degree or another, every modern business relies on technology. Every business owner understands the value of technology, yet very few have the right processes and team members in place to keep that technology running smoothly and efficiently. But most technology fails at one point or another, and when that happens, a lot of businesses are left scrambling to put things back together.
Your IT team can – and should – be doing a lot more than just troubleshooting network or hardware issues. Building and implementing a solid IT strategy allows you to maximize the value your business gets from IT and minimize the potential for catastrophic network, hardware or software issues. In this article, we’ll discuss why an IT strategy is important and outline some best practices for building and implementing an IT strategy that covers all your company’s tech needs.
Why It’s Important
No matter the size of your business, IT is best kept in the hands of professionals. A lot of small businesses split IT duties among employees, even if they have no IT experience to speak of. Why? To save money. Hiring a dedicated IT team adds to a company’s overhead, and for many business owners it’s the first department on the budgetary chopping block.
By not having an IT team, you’re increasing the workload for yourself or for the employee you trust to handle your IT issues. That time would be better spent focusing on your actual job functions; more importantly, it’s not a sustainable approach to your IT needs. As your business grows, so will your IT demands, and without the right staff in place to meet those future needs, your business will struggle to function efficiently and effectively.
Having a dedicated IT team comes with a cost, but with the right strategy and approach to your business IT functions, that cost will be far outweighed by the benefits.
Building Your Strategy
The very first step in building an effective IT strategy is to review your business objectives. What are your short- and long-term goals for the business? Is the technology you’re currently using the best way to achieve those goals? If so, is that technology performing as well as it can? And if not, what technology exists that would bring you closer to reaching those goals? Not only does this ensure that you direct the right IT resources to areas that need it, but it also helps you pinpoint any areas or functions that might benefit from newer or better technology solutions.
To build the most
effective strategy, you need to get a clear picture of where your IT
infrastructure stands right now. Performing an audit of your IT infrastructure
is crucial for a number of reasons. First, it helps you prioritize the problems
that currently exist and
figure out how best to address them. Second (and perhaps more important), it helps you identify areas that aren’t problems yet, but are likely to become problems in the near future. An IT audit also helps you understand how much different parts of your business rely on technology; after all, good IT infrastructure management requires a proactive approach, not a reactive one.
Once the audit is complete, you should have a much clearer idea of which IT functions are working well, which ones aren’t, and what needs attention. Using this information, you can map out a plan to address your business’ needs.
Executing Your Strategy
If you’ve planned your IT strategy carefully, then the next step depends on your current IT staffing situation. If you have an in-house IT department, start assigning tasks to each member of your IT team according to their area of expertise. If, on the other hand, you don’t have a dedicated IT team, you’ll first need to decide whether to form an IT department, hire IT experts to perform these tasks on a contract basis, or outsource your IT management to a third-party provider.
No matter what your IT audit shows, some areas should be part of every company’s IT strategy, and first on the list is cyber and data security. No matter your industry, security breaches and cyber attacks are a very real possibility; if one occurs and you’re not ready, your business will be knocked offline as you scramble to fix the problem, which can have disastrous consequences for the long-term health of your company.
Your strategy should include regular backups of your business data, proactive monitoring for security threats and breaches, and a recovery plan to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible if your data is lost, stolen, or compromised.
It’s also important that you establish IT best practices moving forward. Most businesses without a concrete IT strategy in place approach their IT issues the goal of finding the quickest fix possible – even if it’s not the best long-term solution for the company. Establishing a set of best practices at the outset means you can address future IT needs without disrupting your long-term vision for your business.
The next item is data compliance. For some businesses, industry regulations regarding data handling and transmission are fairly relaxed, but for others, they’re quite strict. Your IT strategy should take into account the specific compliance requirements for your company’s industry, and there should be a clear plan in place to guarantee that your IT strategy aligns with those requirements.
consideration is asset management.
Your IT infrastructure is comprised of a series of assets: servers, computers,
printers, applications, business software, cloud infrastructure, and so on. A
solid asset management system offers a centralized location for each individual
asset’s records, which you can use to ensure that all your assets are working
well together and that each individual asset is performing the way it should
With this high-level view, your IT team can monitor your IT infrastructure holistically, rather than spending extra time monitoring each part of the infrastructure.
Building and implementing an effective IT strategy takes time and effort, but it’s a must- have if you want to ensure the continued success of your company. If you want to discuss the current state of your IT infrastructure or you’re ready to craft an IT strategy, we can help simplify and streamline the process. Reach out to us and we’ll set up a time to chat about your needs.