Small and medium-sized businesses will make the most of their technology investments by building a comprehensive technology plan tied to overall business strategy and key goals. Is excellent customer service a key goal? Your technology needs to support all aspects of customer service to be successful. How about data for decision-making? Do you get what you need when you need it? As your business changes, will your current technology flexible enough to change with it? A comprehensive technology plan will help you answer key questions like these and get you where you need to go!
Technology Planning Builds Toward the Future
We suggest using the steps below to build your comprehensive plan:
- Identify your overall business strategy and goals.
- Inventory your current technology
- Connect your current technology to your overall business strategy and goals and prioritize changes
- Make your technology plan.
Identify Overall Business Strategy and Define Your Goals
Ultimately, your business strategy and goals drive your technology. Understanding your vision for your company and your plans for achieving that vision form the foundation of your technology plan. You can use a streamlined business planning framework like the Business Model Canvas or the Lean Business Model Canvas. Both popular options can help you develop a solid understanding of your core value proposition and market strategy.
With that understanding in place, identify the specific targets and goals for the next 1-2 years. Consider all aspects of your company such as:
- Market share
- Customer service
This list is not exhaustive and the areas that are important to focus on will differ for everyone. Focus on the areas that are the most important for your business first.
Inventory Your Technology
To do your inventory, consider hardware, office tools, software applications, web presence (e.g. website and social media accounts), and telecommunications. For each piece of technology in your business, identify:
- What it is:
- Type of hardware, operating system, office tool (i.e. Office 2013, etc.), software application, service
- Include related information like make, model, version, serial/license number, vendor, purchase/contract date, and projected replacement date.
- Who uses it, where, and for what. In your description, include the level of detail that makes the most sense for your business.
- What did/does it cost: Include capital and operating costs and replacement costs
Connect Your Current Technology to Your Overall Business Strategy and Goals
As a whole, how does your technology inventory support your business goals and strategy? As you consider these, use the retrospective format we previously discussed by asking:
- What is working well?
- What could be better?
- What do you want to change? How do you want to build on what is working well? How do you want to improve what could be better? What do you want to do that you haven't done before?
- Prioritize changes based on the projected impact on your business success and identify the target timelines for implementing each change.
Make your technology plan
Now that you know your priorities for change, starting with the highest priority, make a plan for implementation:
- Identify the resources you will need to plan your changes, such as consultants, research reports, or product websites, etc.
- Gather the information you need and assess options and cost.
- Determine the timeline and process for implementation.