Leaders wear multiple hats, regardless of the organization's size. Sure. But we know, as small business leaders, we feel the pressure to try to do more with less. Over the last three decades, we've seen the role that technology plays in enabling us to be more effective as a company and for our clients. Technology, we find, is often needed and used, but not cared for or maintained as carefully as it should. Why? Because everything we do for our business requires time, money, skills, and resources to accomplish the caring and feeding each department needs to aid in the growth of the company.
The Key to Technology Plans for Small Business
We've all heard the saying, "Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail." We're here to tell you that this philosophy still rings true today in 2020, and couldn't be more pertinent when it comes to technology. Technology planning is not just deciding it's time to buy new computers or the latest model printer for the front office. Technology implementation is only one facet of your business foundation. The hardware and software you rely on to answer the phones, process orders and support your clients all tie into your effectiveness to retain your current clients and bring on new ones. It involves the strategic process of determining how your business can utilize technology to enhance your objectives and increase productivity in the process.
Every business needs a technology plan. Even your small business needs a technology plan. Just because you don't have someone in-house to manage your network, doesn't mean you don't need a set of policies, protocols, and a team to call when you need some guidance. Or, heaven forbid your network is down, and you didn't even know.
You might be thinking, “But wait, I am a small business. What's the point of making a plan I can't execute or afford.”
SMBs can access strategic information technology planning partners that will deliver a customized technology roadmap, putting your small business on a path where IT can drive business productivity and efficiency.
Five Steps to Build Your SMB Technology Plan
When you work with a MSP like MicroTech Systems, for example, we'll help build you a small business technology plan that covers five unique areas:
- Outline short and long-term business goals for your company.
Don't overthink this one. Write the words, one, three, five on a piece of paper and jot down the size, scale, and focus of your business for each of those next few milestone years. Do, however, add a few simple if-then statements under each milestone. For example, if, by year five, you want to triple in revenue and build a new store-front, you're going to need to plan for resources, design, planning, and implementation services well before year five. Likewise, you're not going to take your technology resources to the new office, leaving the legacy without. It's not just services you need to think about. The physical equipment needs you will have to prepare, budget, and account for as well. You will revisit this piece of the plan , just like the others, during the year and annually as you reassess your alignment to the policy.
- Audit and define the useful life of your existing IT infrastructure.
You will need to assess the situation with an expert. Get your pen and paper out and make a list of your physical equipment, hardware, software, and licensing, first. Next, identify the status and capacity of your current environment to support your growth goals and the organization over the life of your technology.
- Calculate a manageable IT budget to cover day-to-day support, proactive management of the network, and remediation capability for those after-hours hiccups.
Plan to budget for technical support services such as troubleshooting you're going to want month-over-month, and then project work like network upgrades as hardware and software go end-of-life.
- Formulate a roadmap to technology adoption and replacement to ensures operational efficiencies.
Allow time before required refresh cycles to evaluate your business model and your growth plans when you pick new technology and be sure that any upgrades are compatible with the existing hardware and software.
- Manage your business and budget to appropriately prepare for, and take advantage of the rapid technology changes occurring around it.
Work with an IT partner you trust to manage to the plan and do the work required to keep your eye on the prize. You wouldn't ask your hire a salesperson and ask them to build and manage the benefits for human resources, so don't wait for your third pc malfunction to happen when your wireless goes down. As the small business owner, you can't find time in your day to play Mr/s Fix-it.
Whether you have IT, staff, on hand, or you're flying solo, your small business needs a technology plan that will help you to leverage technology in your industry strategically. A Managed Service Provider is an excellent solution for small businesses. You get expert-level guidance, and the day-to-day execution service you need to enable your business to run and thrive. With this kind of leadership, your computers and servers won’t just sit there getting old. Instead, your technology will be able to keep you and your customers safe, increase your productivity, and earn an ROI.