Except in truly extraordinary cases, such as Zoom’s 326% revenue increase during 2020, business growth is the result of careful long-term planning. It doesn’t happen without preparation, vision, flexibility, and strategy.
The two most obvious drivers of business growth are funding and people. Get the right level of investment, assemble the best possible team and you’re fit for the challenges ahead. However, within that simple formula, there are several other components for success, perhaps the most significant of which is IT.
The role of a strategy for IT in the development of business custom and practice has changed considerably over the years. Once optional, it’s now indispensable. The roots and branches of IT have spread into every corner of commerce, enabling efficiencies and the streamlining of processes unimaginable just 20 years ago.
Many small businesses either cannot afford or have decided against creating a dedicated in-house IT department. This may make economic sense in the early days, when a new business can probably cope with any issues that arise in the use of off-the-shelf software. At this point, the biggest IT decision is probably which package to invest in. However, as the IT needs of a business evolve and diversify, it’s important to develop an IT strategy to match.
In our experience at Reflective IT, it’s never too late to take a step back and to think about how IT can help you achieve your objectives. Frame your goals according to the technology available and you can assess how best to use solutions such as AI, automation, and data analytics to optimise your operation. Identify which personnel or departments could benefit from specific tools and implement them in a positive spirit of collaboration.
IT can dramatically expand the capabilities of your business. It can increase productivity, manage seasonal scalability, facilitate remote working, simplify internal communication, enhance the team culture, improve management decision-making, and transform the experience of your customers.
If you’ve already adopted a range of IT solutions, then you should conduct an IT audit to measure what is working well and identify those areas in which your IT provision is underperforming. This could be in marketing, product design or back-office administrative functions such as accounting and payroll.
Take the time to consider the widest range of options. Even if you’ve settled on certain software packages, there is no reason to stick with them if they are not compatible. You might have bought a licensed product off the shelf, but the chances are that cloud-based alternatives will perform better, free up the resources of your computer, migrate the business risk and have version upgrades built in. There is also mobile technology to consider, now that the majority of online activity, both social and consumer, takes place on mobile devices.
Cost is always a factor, and you need to budget according to your business goals and risk appetite. There may not be enough funding to pay for every element of IT you require so you’ll need to prioritise resources. If you’re satisfied that your admin support is adequate for the time being, you might consider putting the bulk of your available investment into frontline operations to develop products and expand your customer base.
However, sophisticated your IT may be, it needs to be operated by properly trained personnel. There’s no point investing and then only using a fraction of its capacity. This means integrating your solution into daily workflows and putting in place an ongoing programme of training.
Remember that IT strategy is never complete. Don’t expect to reach a point at which all your decisions are made, and questions settled. IT is changing all the time and so is your business. Be ruthless in getting rid of redundant capabilities and making drastic changes where necessary.
Ultimately, IT is your servant, but you have to remind yourself that you are its master. Devising an IT strategy is not necessarily a discipline that comes naturally to all entrepreneurs. That’s where Reflective IT can help. Our extensive experience makes us the ideal partner to guide you through the creation of an IT strategy and assist you with its monitoring and maintenance. Rely on our support while you focus your energies on running your business.
Call on the experts at Reflective IT
0207 317 4535