Technology decisions may be costly or difficult to change later. Forecasting what hardware and software your business needs to remain competitive requires planning and organization. In order to stay ahead of the curve, include technology into your regular business planning and strategy sessions. Generating a plan will help maintain your environment, train your staff, and support employees who use technology in their daily tasks.
So what should a technology plan entail? Let’s look at a few steps that will help you on your way to planning your business technology needs.
- Start with an assessment of the technology that you already have. Talk with your department heads and employees, conduct a focus group, or send out a survey to find out how the current technology is serving them to identify areas of improvement.
- Perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis for your business. (A sample: http://blogs.cisco.com/wp-content/uploads/TechPlan-Workshop-Attachment-swot-analysis.pdf) After this process, you will be more prepared to identify your business goals for the coming period (year, quarter, month, etc.). Once you have goals, you will be able to identify the tools your company may need to purchase or upgrade in order to achieve them.
- Assess what your company needs. This can be done by reviewing work flow procedures to get a better understanding of true user requirements and your business conditions. This information needs to be looked at alongside any potential constraints you may have. Areas, such as budgeting, may have an impact on your decisions. Establish goals and metrics for your technology environment such as network availability, server performance, and software application reliability.
- Look for flexibility. It is important to make choices about your technology that will allow your company to change and grow while supporting your strategic objectives. There are many templates and resources available to help decide how much you can spend on improvements and what you may need in the future.
- Evaluate products that fit your identified needs. Trade and industry associates often provide lists of vendors who provide industry-specific technology. Attending trade shows will give you a chance to view live demonstrations, compare solutions, and speak with sales people. No matter the products you choose, make sure they are compatible with other hardware and software products you already use.
- Create a disaster readiness and business continuity plan. If your business depends on technology, establish a backup site to run it from in the event of a disaster. An online search will provide you with many templates to choose from.
- Arrange support services, such as installation, upgrades, and troubleshooting for your chosen solutions. This will help you ensure that your operations can proceed without disruption during maintenance. It is also advisable to create a security plan to protect company and customer data.
Does your business planning take technology into account? Do you need some assistance creating a new technology plan? Contact Stewart and Son today for a free 30-minute consultation and let us help you maintain your competitive edge!