Consult any business strategy resource or business expert and it’s guaranteed that one of their primary recommendations will be for your company to set goals. Setting realistic goals is the first step in developing strategies for implementing effective business processes, which in turn will allow your goals to be achieved. The implementations themselves could be complex, but your goals and the strategies to reach them should be simple and direct.
However, there is one key set of business processes which routinely get overlooked by business owners – information technology and computer systems. Any modern company’s IT infrastructure is enmeshed with other core business functions. From resource management to product or service delivery to finance and accounting, you would be hard-pressed to find a component of your business that does not rely in part or in its entirety on technology. So, if you are putting effort into goal-setting for your business in general, make sure not to neglect your information technology goals.
Taking a straightforward approach, we can break down our IT solutions strategy into short and long-term goals.
Short Term Goals
Meeting Short Term Goals is relatively easy, but be careful not to confuse short-term goal-setting with triage. To be sure, tackling day-to day snags and roadblocks is crucial to keeping your business running. However, some businesses (and subpar IT service companies) stop looking for additional problems to solve once they “stop the bleeding” on the most obvious issues affecting a business. A more sophisticated approach moves beyond short term goals like fixing the “squeakiest wheels” and reaches for solutions that quickly and directly improve productivity. Valuable short term goals would be things like: upgrade projects for core applications that would decrease downtime, transitions to outsourced IT providers, or email migrations from legacy on-premise systems to Office 365 or Google for Work.
Long-term goals move beyond the obvious “pain points” and into more forward-thinking territory. You want to ask yourself some questions about how your IT affects not only your budget, but also your revenue generation and overall ROI. How do you best use the IT budget to achieve more efficiency, greater productivity, and most importantly, how can you reduce the anxiety that comes from the feeling that you’re stuck relying on technology that doesn’t feel trustworthy or particularly helpful? How can you do better with less technology, in a quantitative sense, and instead have lightweight “focused” technology solutions – just what is needed, nothing more, nothing less? All this will help you frame your IT infrastructure not as a cost center, but as a profit center for your company, a vehicle for your core business processes to get to their goals more efficiently and effectively.
It is critical to understand the current trends in computing that may impact your industry in the near future, and to start proactively addressing the effects of such an impact. Here is a specific example: with the ubiquity of mobile devices and the expectations of a younger workforce to rely increasingly on mobile apps to perform their work, how do you formulate a technology plan for mobile device management (MDM) and lead a culture shift in your company to remain productive and focused? Being able to foresee the signs of pending obstacles and avoid them before they fully materialize is the key to effective long term IT strategy. You will be required to think more holistically when setting long-term goals. This is less about putting out fires and more about building a fireproof business.
IT Goals = Productivity Goals
You may be saying, “I just need my computers fixed when they break. I don’t need to complicate my life setting goals for IT” But, that is a lot like saying, “I just need to sell more products/services to make more money” or “I need to hire more people when it gets busy.” In some sense, these are true statements, but seen from a wider vantage point, it reveals a limited mindset. Any business leader has to look beyond her company’s immediate needs to eliminate the underlying causes of inefficiency, project derailment, and exceeding budget.
Ideally, what you want to do with all this technology is use it to effectively remove obstacles for you and your customers, and after that runway is clear, it can become a launch pad for where you really want to take your business. Understandably, many business owners need some guidance from a virtual CIO (vCIO) or experienced IT consulting firm to effectively align their IT goals with their overall business goals. There is no shame in seeking the expertise you need to improve your company’s efficiency. An experienced IT consultant can help not only with the technical hurdles your business faces, but also with offering critical distance in identifying larger systemic or procedural problems that reveal themselves through the technology. RED74 can help inform and implement your IT strategies and act as your virtual CIO. Call us at 609-303-3020 or fill out our contact form.