IT Strategy is key for businesses of all sizes.
One of the first things I did when starting up my own business, was to create a marketing strategy and a business development strategy. These strategies are crucial as they give you direction on how to create and advertise the brand that represents your company; then gives consideration on how to turn that brand awareness into leads and opportunities, that will eventually lead to paying work.
The next major milestone is to start delivering on whatever your business does. Whatever it is that you set out to do, just roll up your sleeves and start performing. Looks like you ended up in the world of spreadsheets, never to return!
Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are great for getting things started, forming ideas, capturing ad hoc information and performing analysis, but what is the plan for these as your business grows?
You may already be in a place where you have multiple spreadsheets containing critical information, partially duplicated. You are probably spending an unreasonable amount of time updating all these spreadsheets just to keep everything going.
Maybe you already have applications that you have been using for years that have served your business well, but is that still the case and what is the next step when these outlive their purpose?
It can seem daunting to create a strategy for IT and your applications; however, this is something that you can do yourself without having to become an IT strategist.
Strategies need to be aligned to a business objective, so you will need to consider how IT supports your business and how it will be measured. Once you have that objective, pulling together a list of questions like the sample below should help you identify your preferences. These preferences can then be used to create a strategy that is right for your business.
Sample questions to help form an application strategy:
- Should your application be in the Cloud or will they be set up On-Premise?
- If your documents are to be stored in the Cloud, what provider are you going to use? i.e. Microsoft or Google etc.
- Do you prefer to use applications that are open source or do you prefer to work with suppliers with proprietary software?
- Will the applications be supported by internal employees or will the support be outsourced to a third party?
- Do you intend to develop applications, or should it be configured, or is a mix of both acceptable to you?
- Will you have dedicated applications for specific functions or one enterprise-wide application to support the whole business?
While these questions are very generic and basic they give you a starting point about some topics to think about.
Having given some considerations to some of the tactical questions listed above, you should be able to start forming this into a strategy that will support your decision-making process going forward.
Your IT strategies should give you the direction to look at any business problems you may have, then make an assessment on what action needs to be taken.
As an example, you may have made some decisions on Cloud hosted Microsoft applications. This will give a clear direction to look at the Microsoft app store or approach a Microsoft reseller. The need to review all the platform types and suppliers every time has been removed, allowing a quicker and consistent approach to IT investment. This will remove some of the burdens and allowing you to get back to other aspects of your business.
There are many other aspects to consider when going deeper into IT and Digital strategies however, it is important that organisations of all types and sizes, give at least some consideration to their IT needs.
Failing to do so now, is simply creating future problems, that are likely harder to deal with!