In a previous blog, you read that we have seen many small businesses regret purchasing software and other tools for their businesses because they did not evaluate their strategy, people or processes before choosing a software. Software and technology do not fix a business. Software is merely a tool to carry out your strategies and processes. So, if a small business must know and fully understand their strategies, people and processes, shouldn’t IT be a part of their business plan?
“Why?” you ask. A business plan is supposed to outline all aspects of your business because the business plan is the road map or GPS for your business, since who uses roadmaps anymore? A business plan should help run your business with a cohesive vision, and it should outline marketing, sales, manufacturing, organization, management, and goals. In today’s world, to accomplish many strategies and goals, IT is needed to complete those tasks. Therefore, IT should be a part of the overall business plan.
Let’s face it. Every business uses some form of information technology to handle business operations. Processing orders, communicating with employees, customers, and suppliers, maintaining financial records, carrying marketing strategies, and managing service tickets are just some of the things that require IT. To remain competitive, it is wise to forecast and budget for hardware and software that your business will need. Additionally, you need to generate a plan to educate your staff and employees who use the technology in their daily tasks.
IT should be a part of the overall business plan
Here are seven things you should address in your business plan regarding IT:
1. What does your business need? This means that you should analyze what the people and the departments need in terms of technology. You should ask your employees directly or through surveys and focus groups. You need to understand your current business situation and youur budget. Some things you should consider are setting goals for your computer server performance, network availability and software application reliability.
2. Is your technology scalable? The last thing you want to do is purchase technology that will only serve you for the short term. What may appear cost effective in the short term, may be cost prohibitive in the long term. Make sure that the technology you choose can grow and change with your company. Additionally, you want to make sure that the technology helps you carry out your strategy and goals. Technology should not lead strategy. Strategy should lead technology.
3. Which hardware and software are truly needed? Research what software others in your industry use. You can find this information in trade magazines, websites and trade shows. Additionally, make sure that the software you purchase falls in line with your hardware.
4. What do you do in the case of a disaster? You should always include a disaster recovery plan. For example, many businesses rely on their technology every single day to run their business. If this is the case, you may need to consider having a backup solution. A backup solution will allow you to continue to run your business in the case of a natural or man-made disaster.
5. Who will provide you IT support? There is a lot that goes into IT, like installation, upgrades, and troubleshooting. You need to outline who will be responsible for managing and implementing your IT plan.
6. What is your security plan? To make sure your company, patient and customer data is safe, you need to make sure you have a security plan. Your employees must be trained on how to protect your data, and you will want to make sure that you have the right solutions to help protect your data, like antivirus or spam filters. Once data is breached, your brand and reputation could be devalued, which you do not want.
7. What is your budget for technology? You need to allocate funds for your larger purchases, like computers, servers, managed services, etc., but you also need to remember things like ink cartridges and paper. The budget needs to be all-encompassing, so you don’t run into a financial problem.
The good news is that you do not have to create the IT portion of your business plan alone. ProActive Information Management, LLC, can help you with everything outlined in this blog. Give ProActive a call, today, at 804-897-8347 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Now, I must go review my IT segment in my business plan to make sure it is as thorough as it needs to be. As with anything, there is always room for improvement.