Small Business | 30th Apr 2018

Why your small business needs a technology roadmap

By Paul Manson, vCIO - HUM

On a weekday morning during a cold snap last winter, I jumped in the shower to find that the hot water cylinder had done its dash and left me in the lurch. We’d just had a big house repair bill the week before. “Why now?” I thought with (I’ll admit) just a little bit of self-pity. “Why couldn’t this have happened in the middle of summer? Or at some other, more convenient time?”

In business, as in life, unexpected costs and disruptions are a major hassle and they often crop up at the worst possible time. Whether it’s factory equipment that breaks down and needs replacing the week before a large order is due, or a laptop that crashes the day before an important deadline, we’ve all experienced the toll of the unexpected.

In the digital age, IT has become a major source of unexpected or hidden costs for small businesses. But with the right planning and guidance, you can avoid nasty surprises - and set your business up for a bright future.  

STEP ONE: TAKING STOCK

The first step is to get a handle on the IT you already have, and what you need to do to maintain it. When I do a ‘virtual CIO’ review with HUM customers, we initially focus on three main areas:

  • Stability and reliability: Keeping technology up and running, minimising unexpected downtime.

  • Security: Keeping IT infrastructure safe and secure.

  • Financial prudence: Controlling and limiting costs, so that unexpected bills are avoided where possible.

Compiling a record of your IT licenses and renewals will help keep downtime and unexpected costs to a minimum. We’ll know in advance that your server will need replacing in 18 months, not when it crashes. If you need to replace all your computers in the next two years, we’ll make sure we’re budgeting to replace enough machines each month so that you reach that goal. It’s all about planning for the future in order to minimise the unexpected.

STEP TWO: PLANNING FOR GROWTH

The next step is the fun bit: Making sure your technology is driving - not hindering - your business goals. A good technology roadmap will ensure you’re equipped for growth and ready to capitalise on new opportunities whenever they crop up.

Too often, I see business owners filling short term technology gaps without consideration for their long term business goals. It becomes a bit of a cycle that’s very hard to break without a plan. The key is being clear about what you’re trying to achieve in your business, and identifying the right technology to support that. It’s also about making sure that any tech you invest in is right-sized for your business, and will work well with your existing IT. Flippantly adopting new tools can quickly lead to a complex and potentially insecure framework of core business applications, exposing you to unnecessary complications and risk. 

Ultimately, technology roadmapping helps you make smarter investment decisions. Even large businesses can struggle to create an effective roadmap, so this is one of those jobs where you’ll want to call in an expert. If you’d like to know more, feel free to get in touch with me here.

 

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