How can you know if an IT solution will help your business grow? Will it work for the long-term or short-term? And is your IT solution something that meets both your needs and your budget?
Your IT provider can help you answer these questions to the best of its ability, but it's more challenging to match a client to an IT solution without insight into the client's long-term business goals and strategies.
Knowing your growth plan, needs, and goals can help reduce cost, project, and frustration by matching you with the most appropriate technology to achieve those ends.
WEBIT Services has over 25 years of experience helping clients develop IT strategies and create budgets and growth plans.
By reading this article, you will learn three ways your business can affect your IT solutions and why it matters.
3 IT solution factors affected by business strategies
1. Business goals affect the kind of technology you use
Your business goal can determine the type of technology you use to reach the goal. Not all devices or software options are viable solutions to a problem or meet particular needs.
For example, IT solutions will look very different for a business with ten employees vs. a company with a hundred employees. The smaller business would likely require less robust hardware or software than the larger enterprise.
In addition, some devices will meet your goals better than others. First, you must determine the problem you are attempting to solve or the goal you are striving towards, and then your IT provider can help you narrow down solutions.
Suppose a gardening company is trying to track inventory in their greenhouse and sales floor. They feel that they need access to technology within the greenhouse to do so. Laptops are mobile, but tablets are also a viable solution.
Which one is the best investment for this goal? By better understanding the company's goals, an IT provider can help them narrow down the best device, price, applications, and management to solve this problem.
Your growth goals will affect the kind of IT solutions you employ and when to enact them.
For instance, if you plan to double in size in five years, you don't want to buy all the extra laptops right now. Computers often have a useful lifespan of five years. So when you reach your growth goals and need the extra computers five years later, they will need replacing. Instead, you may space out purchases as you grow.
2. Business goals can affect the price tier of an IT solution
Business goals can also affect your IT budget and investments. Identifying the end goal of your IT solutions helps narrow down reasonable and effective budgets.
For example, suppose a particular software comes in three service tiers. How do you know which level you should invest in? Which package will meet your goals? In addition, will this service tier encompass your employees or customers?
A company may the lowest tier for its price without knowing its functions or its service reach. They may discover that it doesn't address the issues they hoped it would. In response, they must invest in other solutions or manpower to make it work.
In the end, trying to correct the solution often costs more than selecting a different service tier that may cost more but be more effective.
Another company may choose the highest tier assuming that a higher cost means greater reach and abilities. They may find the package too robust for their needs, and it may actually create more complications instead of solving the problem.
For example, the company may later find that this service tier allows for 100 users, but the company only has 25 users. In that case, it's paying for more users than necessary, losing valuable funds that could have been saved on a smaller tier.
Before you select an investment, you must understand what you hope the solution accomplishes.
Identifying your long-term business goals also helps plan out spending over time. You can map out future investments and a proper, long-term execution so that you have the technology when you need it.
3. Business goals determine the IT solution design
Business goals create the boundaries for IT solutions. If a client hasn't communicated boundaries for its IT project (budget, objectives, expectations, etc.), its IT provider or IT team cannot offer the best solutions.
Without clearly communicated goals and guidelines, the IT provider is essentially guessing at the desired solution, outcome, and budget. Sometimes, they may get it just right. Other times, proposed solutions may cost too much or not meet needs as well as they could.
In addition, sometimes clients may suggest a solution without presenting the goal they are moving towards or the issue they are hoping to solve. This can also lead to a mismatched solution.
If a client presents a specific solution, the IT provider or team will bring it to life at the client's request. However, without the guardrails of the business goal, this solution may not be the best answer for the goal or issue.
For example, suppose a gardening company says to its IT provider, "We want to implement WiFi all around the block."
The IT provider can make the appropriate contacts and plans and then begin the expensive process of adding WiFi all around the large perimeter. But is this the best solution? Why does the client needs WiFi around the block? What problem are they hoping to solve?
However, suppose instead the client says, "We want our employees to be able to track inventory and customer interactions throughout our facility. Our goal is to be more efficient in tracking our products and make it easier to process customers in a mobile fashion. What options can help us accomplish this?"
Now, we know the problem and goal the client is trying to achieve. Now, the IT provider can explore IT solutions that may provide a better match than installing new WiFi.
In this case, the IT provider proposes adding tablets with a data plan instead of a new WiFi system installation. They both accomplish the same goal (access and mobility), but tablets are more affordable and a more readily available solution.
It's also vital to see how the solution works within your IT network. You don't want to invest in a technology that is incompatible with your system or can't accomplish your goals.
A quality IT provider or IT team knows your IT system well and can make viable solution suggestions that will work within your existing system and goals.
Investing in the wrong technology costs additional time and money to modify the solution.
For example, suppose a user purchases a consumer-grade laptop to save money. Unfortunately, a consumer-grade laptop has "home" software versions that cannot connect with a business network.
In the end, the user must pay for unplanned software upgrades to connect to their office network. If this doesn't work, they may have to buy a second new laptop that will connect to the network and allow file sharing.
Next steps for using your business goals to select IT solutions
Business strategy has a significant impact on choosing IT solutions. Without goals and boundaries, choosing the most effective and affordable technology to meet your needs is difficult.
As you discuss possible IT solutions with your IT provider or IT team, consider the following questions:
- What is my end goal, or what specific issue am I addressing?
- How does this solution fit in with my long-term business goals?
- Will this solution meet my goal or resolve the problem?
- Is this the correct or realistic price tier for this project?
- Will this solution need additional adjustments and budgeting to work with my IT system, or will it save me money in the long run?
- Is now the right time to implement this solution?
In addition, you should have a written long-term business goal or plan. This can be notes, a written document, a chart, or any format that shares your vision for your business. If you don't have this written down, talk to your vCIO or IT strategist to discuss your goals; they can help you create a record.
A "north star" business goal can help your vCIO better understand your long-term goals. In response, they can match you with the best technology to help propel your business forward.
Often, these future objectives are recorded within your IT roadmap. Talk to your IT provider or internal IT team immediately if you have not worked together to construct an IT roadmap for your business. This living document is an invaluable tool for effective IT strategy and planning.
To examine or build your IT strategy, talk to your provider. Ask them what strategies are in place, and, if possible, review your IT roadmap. See if its goals align with your business trajectory.
It might be time to look for a new IT provider if it does not.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients develop and execute IT strategies to help their businesses.
Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if WEBIT Services can help.
If you're not yet ready for your free 30-minute consultation, you may be interested in these articles on the elements of an IT strategy: