A common issue for many businesses is that budgeting for IT can be a difficult, frustrating task. There are so many unknowns and unpredictable components of running a business. How do you incorporate technology into that blurry picture?
Create a roadmap
You need to create a roadmap with a long-term view that includes constants versus changes. Many businesses do this, but they forget to include technology alignment. There are a few questions that will help insert this into your planning:
- Where in our current roadmap are there glaring technology needs?
- Am I eliminating issues from the roadmap simply because I don’t know how to solve the technological need, even if that would benefit the business greatly if I could solve it?
- Am I not accounting for technology because we’ve never had a problem with our current solution?
- Am I not accounting for technology because I don’t know how to quantify the cost of our needs?
Let’s address these one at a time.
Where are there glaring technology needs?
Nearly every business benefits from a little technology boost, whether it’s improving your processes, alleviating communication issues, or being able to scale quickly. But sometimes seeing which areas would benefit most from technology can be difficult to pinpoint, especially if you’re not sure how technology would improve your business.
Think about what a typical day looks like.
- Where does productivity slow?
- Where do incidents occur most often?
- What could improve your customer service?
- What are the biggest movers in your roadmap?
The items that, if nothing else got done but those few, the business would still be able to function. These are the areas where technology is going to provide the most value. For example, completing bulk sales projects is time consuming. Using technology automation speeds the process and allows your business to scale without hiring extra labor.
Am I eliminating issues because I don’t know how to solve the technological need?
Your number one priority is running and growing your business. It’s not your job to fret over tech, nor should it be. But not knowing how to solve a problem versus choosing to ignore it are entirely different things, and one should not lead to the other.
The issues in your roadmap will be there whether or not you know how technology can solve them. It’s important to recognize your limitations and bring in the experts if you’re running into issues. Maybe your business needs a huge fix or maybe it’s something as simple as upgrading to new software. You won’t know until you ask, and you cannot afford to be ignorant in business.
Am I not accounting for technology because we’ve never had a problem before?
This is a common response that lures business owners into a false sense of security. If you haven’t had any problems before, congratulations! The bad news? Problems are likely coming.
As technology advances, the shelf life of devices shrinks. The longer you leave them on the shelf, the higher risk they pose to your organization. That old computer you’re using? It’s probably still running on Windows 7, which is losing total support as of January 2020. That’s a huge risk to your business because hackers target networks with outdated operating systems. Why? They’re easier to crack.
If you’re thinking, “I’m a small business, they don’t want me,” you’re right. They don’t want your business. They want the data on all of your customers.
Just because you haven’t had a problem before does not mean that there isn’t a problem coming full steam ahead in the future.
“But my business is using technology.”
That answer raises several follow-up questions:
- How old is that technology you’re referring to?
- Is everything running current solutions?
- Do you know what current solutions are?
- When did you last update your hardware? Hardware typically is “current” in a 3-5 year span.
- How often does your tech get updated?
- How often is your network scanned?
- Do you even have the best solutions in place that will optimize your business instead of some one-size-fits-all approach that likely isn’t bringing maximum value for the price?
Am I not accounting for technology because I don’t know how to quantify the cost?
Knowing just how much to spend on technology can be overwhelming. Why is one computer better than another? Which tablet does your office need? Which upgrades should happen first?
The list of questions is a lot longer than this one, and we get it – it’s incredibly daunting, frustrating, and time-consuming. The answer is the same: If you’re not looking ahead at how technology can function within your business to achieve your goals, you’re preparing to fail. Technology is quickly leveling the playing field, and the advantage over your competitors now won’t be there tomorrow.
Yes, technology can be expensive, but the cost of not investing in technology today results in thousands spent later. If you’re feeling overwhelmed after reading this, take a deep breath. We understand. Technology is a complex system of interconnected components that is impossible for any one person to manage. That’s why we recommend calling a managed services provider. This team of experts is there to guide you step-by-step while simplifying the complex and taking the stress of technology off your plate.
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