Yearly IT Planning
On the third episode of TechTalk Detroit Chuck Lobert & Brian Spurgeon discuss what businesses should consider when planning their yearly IT strategy.
Every successful IT operation has one thing in common: strategy.
Years of working with multiple organizations across several industries have taught our team one thing – no two businesses are alike. That means you need an annual technology plan that is strategically aligned with your distinct requirements to help you achieve real success in business.
What Is An IT Plan?
Without a technology plan that’s aligned with their goals, businesses often make poor buying decisions and waste money on ineffective tools.
“Ultimately, every business is a little different, but I think there are a few things that are consistent, no matter what your business model is,” says Chuck.
Aligning your information technology solutions with your business plan will be transformational in terms of returns and success. A technology plan can do the following for you:
- Drive productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness.
- Save you money in wasted time and effort.
- Enhance collaboration and communication.
- Keep you on track to achieve your business goals.
- Show you opportunities to further optimize business processes.
- Identify and mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
What Should Your IT Plan Consider?
Cybersecurity Posture: In today’s competitive environment, businesses must rely on technology in order to compete and survive in the marketplace – all of which must be secure.
There are a number of reasons why IT security should be top of mind in 2020:
- Advancing cyber threats: Techniques employed by cybercriminals are improving and your security strategies need to meet that challenge
- Insurance Costs: Cyber insurance is becoming standard in many businesses. Most insurers have a lengthy qualification form that evaluates your security posture. Your premium (or even eligibility) may depend on how well you are protected.
- Standard Tools & Best Practices: Having a firewall and anti-virus in place are the bare minimum for cybersecurity today. What about multi-factor authentication? Do you have all the expected cybersecurity defenses in place?
- Security Awareness Training: Unaware users are a major threat to businesses – does your staff have the knowledge they need to keep your data safe?
“All the data that comes back always points to the fact that your internal workforce is really your biggest risk,” says Chuck. “A lack of education as to what the threats are is your biggest risk.”
Hardware Requirements: Even if you have a fully functional and effective IT infrastructure in place, it’s very important to review your current hardware to determine if an upgrade is necessary, or will be soon.
- Upgrading to solid-state drives for your hard drives
- Migrating to the cloud instead of replacing your servers
Line Of Business Software: No matter what industry you operate in, you likely use some form of line of business or specialized software. It’s important to consider this software on an annual basis, looking at whether it needs to be upgraded or outright replaced. It’s always worth sending out an RFP to competitors and find out if you could save some money by changing vendors.
“You should at least do your homework, and see what the options are out there,” says Chuck. “Make a determination if it makes sense.”
Technology Support: Don’t bother staying with an IT support company (or continue managing an internal IT team) if they’re not meeting your expectations. If you’re encountering any one of the following challenges, you owe it to yourself to find a better IT company:
- Knowledge and Capability Gaps. Whereas many IT companies will promote their managed services as comprehensive, that may not always be the case. Especially when the client operates in a highly specialized industry, the IT company may not be familiar with their line of business apps.
- Availability. When they’re trying to get you to sign, an IT company may say anything and everything you want to hear. Furthermore, they will likely be very easy to get a hold of. But that may not always be the case. Is your IT support there when you need it?
- Inconsistent Performance. Don’t settle for general statements about performance – you should get actual stats and guarantees about what will be delivered, and how it will meet what you require. If your IT company isn’t performing as promised, then you need to find someone who will.
Training & Conferences: Lastly, you’ll want to look at the training programs and conferences your staff and business could benefit from participating in. These types of investments can pay off big when they help your staff to make better use of the software and IT solutions available to them, boosting business efficiency.
In addition to urging listeners to attend their specific industry conferences, Chuck and Brian recommended Microsoft Inspire & Microsoft Ignite.
“You should be attending industry-specific conferences,” says Chuck. “It doesn’t matter what vertical you’re in, there are great conferences aimed at that.”
From customer experience to workflow optimization, technology is playing a big role in the way businesses operate. Make sure you have a technology plan that aligns your IT with your business goals.
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