Technology is great for driving business growth. But only if it's done correctly. The wrong technology can actually stunt businesses growth.
So how can you make sure your business is using technology in the right way to drive growth? Having an IT Roadmap will help you make sure the right IT and technology are in place to drive growth.
Common business growth problems
The are some common issues that can hinder a businesses efforts at growing. Do you recognise any of the following?
Inefficient or missing processes
As the business grows errors and issues will snowball because of inefficient or missing processes, affecting the bottom line figure. Short-term problems will continue to dominate your business until the right processes are put in place.
Poor or zero reporting
Being correctly able to analysis expenditure, revenue and profitability isn't possible with poor reporting. Making business decisions with incorrect data can be very damaging to a business.
Lack of standardisation
Knowledge lives in 'people's head' and is not standardised across the business. Being over-reliant on the knowledge in employee's heads will stop a business from expanding.
Issues and concerns about reliability
Basic IT doesn’t always work and that will stop people from doing their jobs if it's not looked after in the right way. Even when staff can work the wrong or poorly setup technology will negatively impact productivity across the business.
The role IT plays in business growth
Before your business can grow you need to have a plan for how IT and technology can support and drive growth. Having an IT Roadmap will allow your business to scale-up with confidence.
Whichever of the problems mentioned before that are holding your business back there are ways those problems can be addressed through IT.
This plan encourages you to identify and then remove the barriers stopping growth and issues that are affecting your business. An IT roadmap should also encompass ideas around specialist software, data storage and backup and security. Unless your business has specific IT knowledge in-house we would not recommend trying to do that planning by yourself.
Having an IT structure that can stay flexible while also ensuring that it meets your IT objectives is vital to business growth. Without it, you might fix some problems with the roadmap but you will experience significant growing pains with your technology that will only get worse.
7 point IT Roadmap
By creating an IT roadmap you can understand the steps and actions your business needs to follow to ensure growth.
Start with the business objectives
What is your business trying to achieve? What does growth mean to your business? Is it increased revenue? More staff? Bigger offices? Have a full idea of what direction the business wants to move in.
Identify the tools needed
Work backwards from your business objective and then you can identify what the infrastructure of your business needs to look like. Identify what business systems and technology will be necessary to achieve your objective.
What process, organisation and tech will be needed. Get clear on all the factors that need to be in place to deliver the business outcome that will facilitate business growth for your company.
Fix your current problems
Your business will struggle to grow if you don't remove the operational issues that are having major impacts. Your business might not be able to grow without fixing them, or even worse if you do grow the problems will grow as well and the fixes will become much harder.
Predicting the future is difficult and can never be precise. If it was we'd all be millionaires now. Identify and prioritise your action points but don't become married to the plan when it's done. Things change over time so your plan needs to be flexible and adaptable.
Be clear on who owns the IT Roadmap
Large projects require good management and strong leadership. In any large project, there is too much work to be done without having some to oversee the project. Understand who owns the project and who is keeping every accountable to the objective.
Keep the Roadmap alive and under review
The roadmap must stay relevant and up to date - regular reviews should go hand in hand with regular review of the business objectives.
While an IT roadmap is very useful to a business and can help map areas for growth it can be difficult to complete one yourself. Having an IT partner who can help with strategic planning will be a great help.