The pandemic may be to blame by many organisations for their declining revenues but it is certainly not stopping them from ramping up investment into digital transformation efforts. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending will total $4.5 trillion in 2022 – an increase of 5.1% from 2021 – as boards and CEOs invest in technology aligned to business outcomes. This is good news if you are trying to push an IT project over the line. But you won’t get anywhere with your plans if you can’t demonstrate how your tech investment will help achieve your organisation’s goals. So how do you do that?
Let’s talk tech strategy…
Do you even have an IT strategy in place to help you work out what your tech investment should look like? This is something most big companies have usually developed. However, small and medium-size organisations (£2-15 million turnover) often don’t have an IT strategy at all. SMEs also commonly fail to understand what their budget should look like for IT and are typically reactive on this front. It is not unusual for SMEs to just apply the current year’s budget to the next year, without considering what tech investment they need to help the business to grow. This is often because they lack the understanding and confidence to make the right decisions around IT purchases – something an IT strategy can help you recognise and solve. Here are some important points to keep in mind for developing a robust IT strategy to drive business success.
Understand your organisation’s business objectives
Your IT strategy must outline your business needs and high-level objectives and show how you will apply the technology to support them. If you don’t address this, you will have no idea of what success should look like. These high-level objectives may include sales pipelines and targets, growth plans, staff retention and targets for operational efficiency and customer satisfaction as brand loyalty is key.
You will also need to consider how your strategy will set out implementing an IT infrastructure to scale operations to prepare the business for the future.
Review your existing infrastructure
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel with your IT strategy. Review the tools, systems and software that you already have in place to identify gaps and problem areas. This will help you see what is working well and what is not. If you can continue to make use of existing systems then do so as it will save your organisation money. By thinking critically about your current IT infrastructure, you’ll be able to plan your strategy based on the resources you already have and can highlight opportunities to save money and time.
Proof of concept
When you’re building out your strategy, including a proof of concept exercise is essential for testing whether your ideas are viable. The goal of this step is to specify what solutions you need, show that your proposed tech solutions will work in reality, and confirm that your users need these solutions. The research which goes into your proof of concept allows you to make sure you can implement your ideas to achieve the desired outcome and should save you from making mistakes and wasting resources. After all, there’s no point in implementing technology that won’t achieve your end goal!
You need to win people over in your organisation who will have faith in your IT vision and champion your strategy. Finding a sponsor in the business that understands what you’re trying to achieve, is clear about the business objectives (and can even sign off your budget) will go a long way towards getting buy-in to your IT strategy and helping you achieve your goals. Talk about what you’re doing and perhaps invite the person (or people) you think can help you to a meeting or to lunch where you can discuss it with them.
Go in-house or outsource your resource needs?
Your strategy should outline your resource allocation by creating an IT resource roadmap of the major hardware, software and any other tools you will use. You will need to consider whether you can implement your strategy in-house or whether you need to outsource to a tech provider. If you use a tech provider, make sure that you feel comfortable with whoever you engage. You’re looking for a partner – not just a provider. You should feel confident seeking their counsel so choosing a company with the right cultural fit is important. Do ask for references and read their case studies as these will give you a sense of whether you feel you can trust them to become the partner that helps you deliver on your IT strategy.
You should give careful consideration to how you will measure your outcomes to show that they have met business needs. You will only be able to successfully deliver your strategy if these outcomes are realistic and achievable, and you have the budget to support them. The key metrics and KPIs you put in place will benchmark and analyse how your strategy is performing over time so that you can adapt it and make any necessary changes. You will also be alerted to anything which isn’t working. At this stage, you will also need to recognise whether you’re facing any technical constraints (such as a lack of knowledge around what you’re trying to implement) and suggest how you can bridge this gap.
Successful organisations share the common trait of using a strategy and planned processes to operate efficiently and grow. You’re now set to start developing a robust IT strategy but if you need help, AzteQ’s CUBe framework includes discovery sessions to gain a complete understanding of your IT requirements and challenges to give you a bespoke offering with value-driven outcomes.