It’s 2016: The economic outlook is positive in the U.S., despite so many unknowns around the globe creating market volatility. You have your business ready for growth. You may have your goals, plan, and people in place, but what about your technology? It changes so fast, how can you keep up? What is the impact of not taking advantage of the right technology for your business? How will your business deliver without the required technology capability?
The truth is, the technology and/or processes that worked for you as a startup or a smaller team may not be able to deliver the capabilities you need as you expand your team and your client base. New Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are hitting the market all the time and revolutionizing processes and departments alike. You can’t afford to be left behind or bogged down by the costs that may come with implementing and transitioning yourself.
So, here you are, poised for success: You have a great team in place and a business strategy ready to hit the market, but no clear picture of the IT tools available for your business or how to ensure they are connected to your business processes. What can you, a business leader, do to get the most out of new technology and set your team up for success with the right tools? In this series of blog posts, Awecomm will explore many of the new tools and strategies that can quicken, simplify, and automate tasks in service delivery, sales and marketing, accounting, HR, and other areas of your business.
Before we dive into the specifics, you need to consider what kind of in-house or outsourced IT delivery is right for your business. In order to grow and leverage new technology, your current IT must be delivering core services effectively and you must have a resource that is focused on business first. Here are three IT strategies that could work to get your IT in order and have a key resource for you and your team to leverage to accomplish the goals for 2016:
1. Get a “break/fix” contract, and hire a business-focused IT leader
In this scenario, you’ll have dedicated resources to keep your systems up and running (your “break/fix” contract), and someone higher up in your organization in charge of recommending or selecting and implementing new technologies. This is a lean option, but may not be very flexible. Does your IT leader fully understand all aspects of your business and the needs of the different departments? Can you be sure that this single person won’t overlook a better solution that they aren’t familiar with, or write off a new tool because of a personal preference? Placing so much responsibility on a single team member may also lead to a messy transition or lost knowledge if that person eventually leaves the company. However, if you have the right break-fix contract that is focused on proactive as well as reactive support that meets the needs of the business, and you hire the right business leader focused on how your business can connect processes/needs to technology, it might be the right fit for you.
2. Hire an in-house IT team
A full, in-house IT team could be a more expensive option, but it can give you strong proactive and reactive capabilities to the support demands of your business and provide critical IT capability for your organization. A full team means more perspectives on new technologies, as well as the flexibility to address your day-to-day IT needs while also looking at the bigger picture and implementing new technology solutions that benefit the whole business. With this option, there is still a danger of losing knowledge as team members leave your organization, but it can be mitigated by being spread across multiple team members. Additionally, if you are not familiar with today’s full IT spectrum, how will you attract and retain the best IT talent? Can you ensure that they will keep up with the constantly changing technology landscape? Can they truly connect with other departments in your company to fully understand their objectives and technology needs? In other words, are they capable of focusing on your business and THEN determining how you can leverage IT to meet the objectives, or are they just interested in the latest new technology?
3. Hire an IT firm
An outside IT firm may not be intimately familiar with your business and the everyday activities that occur, but a good one will take the time to learn your business and have a strong team of resources from which your company will benefit. When you partner with a third-party IT provider, they can address your immediate IT needs (proactive and reactive core IT needs of the business), and be able to work with key business leaders on your team to deliver solutions that directly impact your goals for the year. They can bring a breadth and depth of IT solutions through their awareness of the IT industry as a whole, as well as how other organizations are addressing emerging threats and taking advantage of new technologies. Bringing in a third party can be challenging, as many of the managed service providers (MSP) focus on your IT needs, not the more important business goals that should drive your IT needs, but the expertise and experience of an outside firm can be valuable. Just be sure to put your business goals first, then determine how IT can help you achieve those goals.
The right IT strategy will transform technology from a problem you are always talking about to a key part of your business, and your ability to achieve key business goals. It will set up your team for success by providing key IT capabilities your company does not have today. This will save you time and money while also increasing productivity and client service.
Now that you are considering the different options that can help you take advantage of how existing and emerging IT tools can help you achieve your business goals, take the time to learn more about just what those tools are and how they can help your business automate and simplify almost any department. In the coming weeks, Awecomm will explore tools and process for pipeline management, lead management, CRM, campaign management, website design, accounting functions, and much more. Check back soon for the next piece in the series!