Seems silly, or strange, to think about running your business without a computer, laptop or smartphone. Why is that?
I was at a client’s office last week, and we were talking about her upcoming CRM migration. She spun around in her chair to bring up something on her computer, bumping into the desk with her chair – and mentioned that this desk was her dad’s. He had it in his business, 60 years ago, and she wanted it for hers.
It was a beautiful desk, mahogany wood, hand-made by her dad, and he had it in his construction business. The problem today was, the desk wasn’t ideal for today’s workplace. Times have changed. The way people conduct business, today, is different, and the only reason that technology is introduced into the business world is to create efficiencies.
Let’s continue with that efficiency and let’s find out how we can turn IT from a cost center to a way it can create real improvements to your company. Let’s also be honest by saying that it may not cost us less to implement any technology. However, let’s realize the ways it can improve operations, give a real competitive edge over your competition, and create an awesome experience for your clients.
Think about what your business could accomplish if you had a plan for your technology to work on your behalf. Imagine that your technology has ears, it can list to you and help you in ways you never thought.
Here are a few ways this could happen:
1 – Right Resources
Getting the right resources is crucial, and some of the folks in your IT department may not be the right resource. It would help if you had someone who can act as your Cheif Information Officer is the person who has the responsibilities and understanding of the business flow of information.
- How do the systems work? Who uses them? How do they integrate?
- How does billing happen?
- What does the client see?
- How does the workflow process move?
If you don’t have an IT person who understands business in general, profit & loss, efficiency, and operational metrics – you need to find someone that does. This role is crucial and should be part of all strategy meetings.
2 – Create a Roadmap.
This roadmap should be something that runs parallel to the company mission or strategic plan. Does your company have 20-employees that is looking to grow another 20-employees soon? Is your roadmap going to look different than the 5-person or 100-person office?
Here are some of the components that your CIO might use to guide you through the IT Strategic plan.
- Security. If we were to baseline where you are in terms of security now, what are ways to improve this? What do we have to be compliant vs. what risks exist that we can mitigate with a security upgrade?
- Strategy. What is the company’s strategic plan? What objectives do we need to get ready for, and are we moving, or are we integrating our billing system with a CRM? Are we adding 10 or 12 more people? Are we moving to a remote-only plan? Are we buying a business, are we pivoting the business to something else, and do you have a succession plan coming up that requires changes?
- Productivity. Looking at each department, to see how the jobs are performing– are there ways technology can reduce the number of steps or notifications?
- Support. Are we using the right software, does it support our company correctly? How do users get assistance now, and what does that experience look like? How can we improve upon it? How do we reduce users needing help in the first place?
- Infrastructure. What does the technology-infrastructure look like, and what about those strategic initiatives from earlier? Can our current infrastructure support the changes? Is it time to upgrade? Does the cloud support the plan, and do we have the right people to make those changes?
- Experience. What is the experience that you want your clients to have? From finding you, to education, being introduced, sales process, onboarding, ongoing support and service, billing, account management, new products, ongoing training, customer appreciation?
3 – Review Process.
The CIO will have to be actively involved in meeting with each employee, to give them the opportunity of learning the key-metrics for each department. When was the last time metrics reviewed? Are they relevant, or stagnant? Let’s start there and then move on to asking the members of your leadership team to identify five ways their departments can improve their efficiency.
4 – Review People.
Yes, this is the tough one – some people are better at handling this than others. Fact is, not every person is the right person for the role or seat that you have in your company. The best possible outcome is finding two employees that stink on ice in their current positions – but they are perfect for the other’s position. You swap them and see immediate improvements. Take a read through Get a Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable…Your Journey to Get Real, Get Simple, and Get Results by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton
5 – Review Technology.
Reviewing your technology might be an area where you can save money or an area where you might have to spend money. Perhaps, this is the time where you establish a budget, not only for spending – but for saving for the investment schedule. Identifying the right time to replace your computers, your network hardware, your annual renewals or your unknown IT spends. If nothing else, make a list of all of your technology – Internet, Phone, Infrastructure, Users, Support, Consultants.
By bridging the gap between your technology infrastructure and the company’s strategy will only benefit you in the long-run.
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