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How to Develop a Strategic Technology Plan that Cuts Costs and Increases Profitability

Written technology plans are one of those things we rarely see when we visit clients for the first time. It is far more common for companies to simply incorporate a handful of technology needs into their business plan (if they have one) and have a single line item for IT inside their budget, to be spent as needed throughout the year.

Here’s the problem. Technology pervades everything we do. How we communicate, conduct research, create and archive mission critical documents, order supplies, and so much more is all made easier with the right technology (and infinitely harder when technology fails us).

That is why to remain successful and competitive in today’s environment, every type of company benefits from having a written strategic technology plan. When developed and implemented properly, the plan supports growth goals, streamlines operations, maximizes budgets, and increases profitability.

What to Include in Your Strategic Technology Plan

  • Written short- and long-term goals, along with a strategic plan to support those goals in a cost-efficient manner;
  • A budget that supports strategic investing — not reactive spending — to patch problems throughout the year;
  • Ongoing systems monitoring to proactively ensure everything is running smoothly, not an IT team that shows up only after a failure has occurred and disrupted your life;
  • An IT team that is well-versed in your industry and understands how you operate, including the ability to support your specialized software; and
  • A summary of all software needs, including a budget for training and support (where applicable). It should also reflect of the availability of niche discounts (often unadvertised – but they’re out there!)

Inside of the technology plan, we highly recommend you include a budget that covers your ongoing technology costs. Hardware, software and accessories are obvious inclusions. You should also allow for general maintenance, troubleshooting of servers, network and desktop issues, emergency fixes, vendor management, and consultations each year to review your environment and future needs. Managed Services packages are an ideal solution to help you do this in a cost-efficient manner. For one set fee, your IT company should guarantee you proactive support and guidance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. In addition, this support should be available both on-site and remotely.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a strategic plan that will support your goals over the next 1, 3 and 5 years?
  • Does the plan specifically outline how goals will be achieved?
  • Does your budget include someone to proactively monitor and repair your network to minimize interruptions?
  • Are you confident the budget you’ve been given will be enough to cover everything that comes up during the year?

Developing a written strategic technology plan can be overwhelming, but in our experience, the time spent pays for itself in the long-run.

To learn how you can develop a realistic technology plan and budget for your business, contact our specialists today.


Technology is Changing Fast. How Can Your Organization Keep Up?

Technology changes fast. Software upgrades are made available each year, often requiring companies to repurchase and reinstall each license. Plus, with the ever-growing amount of applications and data you need to access and archive, computers and servers frequently need to be added or upgraded, resulting in rising technology costs each year.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you tired of repurchasing and reinstalling new software every time an upgrade is required?
  • Are you using old computers and running older versions of software to minimize your costs?
  • Are you experiencing compatibility issues with applications, other computers, or outside companies?
  • Are you increasing your risk by allowing people to share logins and passwords because you are short on licenses?
  • Are you 100% confident that your operating system and every device connected to your network is secured?

The problems above can be resolved with two distinct services: Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) and Cloud Computing. They offer businesses flexibility, reliability, security, accessibility, and scalability.

Hardware-as-a-Service

Hardware-as-a-Service is similar to leasing or licensing. The hardware (e.g., computers, servers and networking devices) is installed in your office but belongs to the managed service provider. You pay a flat monthly fee, allowing you to set a reliable budget that can include your hardware, software, maintenance, and installation.

Let’s face it: hardware is a depreciating asset. Therefore, investing in HaaS provides certain advantages, such as:

  • Minimal upfront costs;
  • When hardware reaches the end of its useful life, it is refreshed by the managed service provider at no cost to you; and
  • Should the hardware fail or become outdated, it is the managed service provider’s responsibility to repair or replace it.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is another service that is tailored to the specific needs of your business and can be budgeted as a fixed monthly expense, rather than incurring a large upfront cost. Below are some of the many advantages to cloud computing solutions:

  • 24/7/365 anywhere, anytime access
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Immediate remote IT support
  • Highly secure and reliable
  • Data centralization
  • Automated data backup and archiving
  • Hosted email, providing uninterrupted access
  • Efficiently roll-out new software, with minimal interruption to your staff
  • Expandable file storage and sharing
  • Unlimited capacity
  • Minimal space needed to house equipment. Ditch that server room and use it for something more profitable.
  • Significantly lower IT expenditures annually

Many companies offer cloud computing services, so it’s important to understand what you need and what you are getting before you sign a contract. Here are some key questions to ask your provider before committing:

  • Can I pay for only the resources that I need, adding space when necessary?
    Your contract should provide some flexibility, allowing you to add – and even reduce – your commitment as your needs change.
  • How do I know my data backups are working?
    Don’t wait until you need the backups to discover a failed implementation. Someone should periodically test the backups to ensure everything is working.
  • Can you describe your redundant server architecture?
    A redundant server environment must protect your data. Then, if the server housing your data were to fail or become compromised, the redundant server can be brought online immediately, minimizing and even eliminating your downtime. The best environments will include multiple power sources, multiple generators, and redundant internet providers.
  • Do I need any on-site equipment?
    There are different options available, ranging from maintaining a local server in your office to operating completely remotely. Understand the pros and cons before you choose.

As a final note, to help your company not only keep up with technology but also leverage it most advantageously, assess the IT resources you have in place. Whether you have an entire technology department, a single professional managing your needs, or outsource everything, it is critical that you have the right professionals watching over you. Their ability to maintain your network, secure your infrastructure and troubleshoot daily needs can mean all the difference in the world.


Getting the Most out of Your IT Budget

The cost of hardware, software and accessories can quickly add up when you want to provide appropriate tools to every valuable player.

We’ve talked with owners who acknowledge their employees share computers and passwords because they believe it is cost-prohibitive to upgrade their hardware and software. We’ve visited businesses that are using older computers and operating systems that are no longer compatible with the newest software packages, forcing employees to complete tasks manually and inefficiently because their technology is unable to support their needs.

Many businesses simply add a line item to the budget that is comparable to the past year, and then hope it is enough to cover their needs. But we believe there is a way to look at this process more strategically.

Determine What is Needed
The first thing you should do is determine what you need. Putting a strategic technology plan in place, complete with written short- and long-term goals, helps ensure that your investments will improve the organization in a tangible way. Once you’ve determined your goals and the programs that are needed to fulfill those goals, figure out what it will cost. You can further dissect the numbers to identify areas where you can save and maximize your dollars later.

Action Steps That Will Help Control Your Budget
Here are some action steps you can take to help you develop and control your IT budget:

  • Identify every program and individual that requires some form of technology, as well as the specific technologies you believe they require (i.e., hardware, software and accessories)
  • Determine what level of technical support each program and individual require
  • Set short- and long-term goals for every program
  • Determine your total or allocated budgets
  • Identify areas that can be centralized (e.g., email)
  • Identify areas that must be maintained independent from others

In addition, many businesses don’t realize they may be eligible for a variety of unadvertised discounts on new equipment and software purchases, allowing them to increase their purchasing power.

Finally, ensure you have the proper level of support available at all times, including a proactive system in place that actively monitors and manages your entire network. We have seen budgets blown apart when a network malfunctions or a breach occurs, and significant dollars are spent repairing and replacing hardware and software. Working with a professional who can provide Managed Services is the best practice, as this guarantees you around-the-clock system monitoring and proactive system maintenance, along with a variety of other services, for a pre-determined monthly fee, helping you to control your IT consulting costs.