March 18, 2021

What's Progressing Faster, 2021 or your Technology Plan?

As soon as you finish one budgeting cycle it feels like it's year end and then it’s time to start all over again.

It’s too easy to look at your technology spend simply as a cost center when ideally, you should be able to consider it a business enabler.

Does it seem every article you see talks about “Digital” or “Digital Transformation” or some other new and exciting buzzword that replaces last years stale and now boring buzzword?

Fundamentally technology is no different than the other areas of your organization. Whether you are a small or medium sized business or a non-profit, you have job to do and technology should be helping you do it better; serve your clients better, help make your staff more effective and efficient, help improve your use of data and overall, just make your organization run smoother. If you are a for-profit business, you want to make more money and if you are a non-profit, you want to fulfill your mission better.

Sadly, for many reasons Technology often seems to do the opposite. It can be very expensive, it’s extremely complicated, it always seems it needs patching, upgrading or outright replacing. Do not even get me started on security. The bad guys always seem to be one step ahead.

You try to manage technology, maybe you have a small IT department, but they always seem overrun by the technology and user requests. Or you outsource some or all of it to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). They are always proposing some upgrade or addition. How can you determine what’s best for you?

So, you know the issues, what do you do about it?

You develop a plan.

You need to review what you do as an organization and then determine how technology fits into those requirements. Where are your pain points? Where are you ineffective or inefficient? What are your clients and employees saying? Where are you spending?

Fundamentally you need to focus on these areas:

1. If you have not done so you absolutely must have an online strategy. This includes your website, social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, online chat etc.

2. If you sell online, is your ecommerce working well? Using something like Shopify to improve the customer experience and simplify the sales process may be a strong consideration. Do not build what you can buy.

3. If you raise funds, are you using an effective system to do so? Are you leveraging your doner data?

4. Keep on top of tech security. The bad guys are very good so security should be top of mind. Ransomware continues to be a big problem for all organizations. It’s time for employee training.

5. Engage your clients and employees. They likely know what you can do better and will be happy to tell you.

6. Consider a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. You cannot manage via spreadsheets anymore. There are many free or almost free options available.

7. Leverage the cloud. Covid showed everyone we need to embrace online shared tools to facilitate work from anywhere. This might increase your operating costs, but it will decrease your capital costs. This applies to email (which no one should host themselves anymore), file storage and sharing, collaboration tools, etc.

8. Review your phone system. The days of everyone sitting at their desks for 8 hours are likely gone forever. Can your clients and co-workers reach you wherever you are?

9. Review your existing spend. You likely spend with Managed Service Providers, IT vendors, Phone companies, internet companies, copier companies, Managed Print companies, Cellular companies, Accounting, HR, CRM software companies. It might be time for a deep dive here to see if there is unnecessary spending. This is also where you look to see if you are following new technology directions to ensure you don’t keep spending on older ineffective technology.

10. Review and understand what you can do with your internal resources and what you need external parties to provide. Understand the trade-offs in both cases. Then pick external providers that compliment your organization and make it better.

I hope this provided some useful food for thought. If you need help with any of the above the independent and trusted IT advisors at ourCIO would be happy to help you position yourself for the year ahead.

Paul Beaudry is an experienced senior IT Leader sharing his know-how so organizations can navigate through the complexity of it all. Paul shares some insights toward more meaningful IT Planning.

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