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5 questions you should ask when developing an IT strategy

Creating a new IT strategy for your business can seem like an overwhelming task. Whether you’re developing an IT strategy from scratch for an entirely new business or trying to update your existing strategy, there are a few fundamental components that should be part of any company’s IT plan. Here are five questions you should ask when developing an IT strategy that will help you decide on the best strategic path for your unique business needs.

1

What can my business afford?

Although you shouldn’t develop your IT strategy based on cost alone, it is an important factor. Starting off with a budget in mind will help you to allocate your resources effectively. Although the IT costs associated with your business could be very different based on what products or services you provide, this number can serve as a useful benchmark for what you can expect to spend.

Beyond simply determining your budget, it’s also crucial to invest that budget in the most effective way possible. Key elements that should be included in your budget include cloud solutions and data analytics, both of which are essential components of any good modern IT strategy. Cybersecurity should also be a high priority in your IT strategy, as it will help to prevent costly downtime and potential data breaches.

2

Should my IT be handled in-house or outsourced?

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when developing your IT strategy is whether or not you want an in-house IT staff. In-house teams may have more a more intimate understanding of your company, but you’ll need to provide management, guidance and tools. This will cost your company more time and money. Outsourcing, by contrast, delivers a broader skillset with greater know-how and flexibility. This is often a more reasonable approach for small companies with limited financial resources. Ultimately, the best strategy will depend on your exact business model.

3

How can systems be consolidated for maximum efficiency?

If your business already has several older systems in place, it can be a good idea to consider IT consolidation as part of your new IT strategy. Consolidating existing systems can help you to save time and money and simplify IT management. Consolidation also has the added benefit of removing potential cybersecurity risks posed by using outdated software or hardware.

When it comes to IT consolidation, cloud solutions are often among the easiest and most cost-effective ways to consolidate your existing systems and reduce your IT footprint. By migrating your existing systems to the cloud, you can eliminate redundancies and greatly simplify the management of your IT assets. Cloud solutions also allow you to outsource the management of your server infrastructure, which in turn frees up your resources and staff for more critical tasks.

4

What will happen in the event of an emergency?

Although it’s important to develop an IT strategy that best suits the day-to-day needs of your business, it’s also important to include disaster and business continuity planning into your strategy. Whether your systems suffer downtime as a result of a natural disaster or a cyber attack, you need to have a solid plan in place to keep your business on track, recover lost data and return to normal operation. Disaster planning is especially critical for small business owners to consider, even though a surprising 68 percent of SMBs have no concrete disaster recovery plan in place.

Your disaster recovery plan should include contingency plans for getting both hardware and software up and running again after an emergency. It should also clearly state what actions need to be taken by whom in the process of disaster recovery. Although this planning is important, there are also steps that will need to be taken before any disaster takes place. For example, performing regular data backups and testing their integrity will help you recover data quickly if an emergency does occur.

5

Where will my company be in five years?

When you’re creating an IT strategy, it’s important to take the future needs of your business into consideration. The IT strategy and infrastructure you create today should not only be able to meet the current needs of your company, but also give you room to scale as your business expands. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to try to plan for the growth of the next 3-5 years when developing a new IT strategy.

You should also factor in your growth plans as a part of your IT strategy so you can create a better plan for the future. As in other areas of IT strategy development, it’s well worth looking at cloud solutions as part of your growth plan because of their inherent flexibility and ease of scaling. Keeping all of this in mind as you develop your new IT strategy will help ensure that it will meet your business’ core technology needs now and in the future. If you need help deciding which solutions will work best with your growth plans, it can be useful to take advantage of an IT consulting service.