Most South African businesses now realise that technology (and its correct implementation) is crucial to the success of any organisation. Technology has likewise become invaluable to organisational leadership over the several past decades.
The importance of having an effective and forward-looking IT (information technology strategy) strategy can therefore not be over-emphasised. It’s vital in boosting sales, improving your staff’s productivity, and building experiences that will have your satisfied customers coming back again and again.
What is an IT strategy?
An IT strategy is a wide-ranging and in-depth plan that spells out how your business employs technology to meet and promote your goals. It should always be a written document that covers how your enterprise invests in and employs technology.
Most importantly, though, an IT strategy helps you balance two goals:
- Supporting your daily operations as they are now
- Planning for future growth and innovation
It shapes and informs all your overall business strategies and processes like the management of technology, (both hardware and software), human resources, customer support, as well as risk and vendor management.
Effectively implementing a successful IT strategy needs strong IT leadership, so the CIO (chief information officer) and the CTO (chief technology officer) have to cooperate closely with all the different departments in the business. It’s equally vital
that a company’s IT strategy be agile and flexible, so that it can respond and adapt to:
- Changing organisational circumstances
- Changing industry and market conditions
- Evolving business objectives and priorities
- Budgetary limitations
- Changing core competencies and skillsets within the company
- Continuing and ongoing technological developments
- Evolving user needs
Why an IT strategy is important for a small business
A nimble IT strategic plan is important for a whole host of reasons, including:
- The establishment of clear parameters for future strategies
A clearly set-out IT strategy highlights both the future and current goals of the business. This enables all stakeholders to focus on what is important and gives direction to the development of policies, strategies and processes.
- Helping you to craft forward-looking business strategies and plans
A forward-looking IT strategy allows you to plan for the future more effectively. It enables you to highlight what is important long-term. This makes it possible to set in place mechanisms that are in line with your overall business model as you move towards achieving your future goals and ambitions.
- It makes it easier to communicate plans and strategies to senior management
A clear IT strategy makes it easier to convey business objectives to senior management. It likewise makes it easier for senior management to assess whether those objectives are fully in line with the business’s vision and ethos.
- It facilitates decentralised decision making
It keeps the whole company on the same page as regards decision making by establishing a clear framework within which decisions can be made and implemented. Staff members are confident about what to do and don’t have to refer to management all the time, thus saving both time and money.
- It helps your businesses cope with change and take unforeseen developments in stride
Change is an immutable law in the IT world! A nimble and adaptable IT strategy helps you cope with these unavoidable changes and adapt to new conditions with less pain. It encourages agile future planning thus equipping your business to cope with unexpected changes.
- It speaks to the issue of ‘Shadow IT’
Shadow IT refers to the use of IT devices, software, file-sharing apps, and other systems without the explicit approval of the IT department concerned. While highly innovative and effective, it often raises concerns about security, risks and fears of compliance violations and data leaks. A well-muscled IT strategy, with clear parameters, will make it easier for your business to address the use of shadow IT.
Without an IT strategy, many small businesses find themselves constantly trying to play catch-up with their competitors. With an IT strategy, you can become the business everyone else is trying to keep pace with!
Benefits of having an IT strategy
As we all know, technology plays a crucial role in the running of virtually every business these days. A surprising number of South African businesses still don’t have an IT ‘map’ in place to navigate by, though the benefits of doing so are many!
An effective IT strategy gives business owners clear directions on how to employ technology in support of their business. It also boosts security by highlighting gaps in IT security (and how to address them). It pinpoints any potential risks and pitfalls associated with the use of technology and how to cope with and minimise those.
It aligns the technological tools available with your business and its goals, and guides you in how best to implement technology to derive the greatest benefit from it. This in turn will help you plan and minimise costs by using technology and proper budgeting.
Finally, a good IT strategy plan will guide you through inevitable changes and how to utilise technology programmes like VPNs (virtual private networks) whilst still ensuring your network’s safety.
How to design and implement an IT strategy for your SME
In planning and implementing your IT strategy, it’s important to make sure it aligns with your overall business goals. You need to understand the relevant stakeholders and technological developments in the market and incorporate those insights into your IT strategy.
You have to define the scope and needs that your strategy has to address. You should take stock of the existing resources of your data centre, (i.e. hardware, applications, skills, etc.) to identify gaps that will have to be seen to.
Ensure your IT strategy will be able to guide your business to the destination you envisage for it. It needs to ensure your KPIs (key performance indicators) will take your business towards your ultimate aims and objectives.
And finally, you have to make sure you have all the executive approval and sufficient budget for implementing and driving your IT strategy.
Not sure where to start?
Inspired about getting that IT strategy in place, but not sure how to proceed? Never fear – ISite Computers can help!
We are an official Microsoft Partner and a managed IT services provider, and have helped numerous small to medium-sized businesses in South Africa in setting up their computer systems from maintenance to management. We will see to your cybersecurity, backup issues, troubleshooting and recovery, as well as employee training.