Digital Transformation holds a different meaning for different businesses. For us, it means enabling businesses to move fully into the digital age, using technology to achieve your business objectives.
With more advanced technology becoming the office norm, it’s time to realise the impact it can have on your business efficiency. A strong IT infrastructure is the backbone to any strong business plan.
Start by identifying your business objectives
To start you on the path to a collaborative IT and business strategy, you first need to think about your objectives and goals. Where do you want the business to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years...? Are you a market leader or do you need to stabilise yourself in the sector? Think about developing services you could be offering, or what your business is currently slow to deliver on.
Having a clear idea of your key objectives will help you identify what technologies will be necessary to get you there. For example, if your objective is to improve delivery speeds, you might need systems in place to automate some of your manual processes. If you want to improve customer retention, you may need better documentation and collaboration. If you want to grow your revenue, a way to generate and nurture leads will be important, and so on.
Assess your current situation
Once you have your vision, you need to look at your existing technology. Understanding and assessing your current position helps you to understand what tools you already have at your disposal, and how far you need to go to meet your goals.
- Take stock of your hardware and software
- Make note of how old your hardware is and whether it needs updating
- Identify who uses what systems, what is being used as intended and what has been hacked or bodged to try and do what your staff need it to do
- Identify what areas of the business have systems that aren't working
- Audit broken or non-functional items
- Identify security risks
Communicate at this stage with your IT personnel to gauge your IT strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your business goals. Establishing how your current IT infrastructure may be shaping, defining or holding your business vision back helps to view the two in unison.
Figure out how IT will get you where you want to go
It’s time to bridge the gap between where you are now and your business objectives.
Use the data you discovered in the previous step, alongside your defined business goals, to scope out what IT your business really needs.
- What technology will your business require to move forward?
- Do you need to remove manual processes with an ERP system?
- Do you need to improve customer service with a CRM?
- Do you need to solidify your apps and reduce overheads with Microsoft Azure?
- Is your online server posing a current vulnerability to reaching your business plan?
- Do you need to move your files to the Cloud?
- Do you need to increase collaboration between teams with better software?
- Do you want to realise the benefits of remote working?
The answers will depend on what you want to achieve in the near and far future. Future-proofing your business may depend on changing the way you do things now, but short term change can set you up to achieve exactly the growth and ambition you have for your business.
Think about the wider benefits of different changes. Removing manual process with an ERP, for example, will free up employees to focus on more important activities, reducing the time cost of processes that can be automated. You can then either streamline, or redirect focus to higher value work.
Mapping IT with business
Any change can be an intense process, so it makes sense to take some time and plan out how you intend to go about making your IT align to your business goals. Getting employees to engage with digital transformation is key to making a success of the project, so plenty of planning and communication will be vital.
There is no sense in updating every single system at once if that means you have to change everything about how you operate all in one go. A staggered implementation might be more suitable, giving you time to bed in each change before moving on to the next. On the other hand, a sweeping change might make more sense for your business - getting expert guidance can be the best way to make sure any changes work for you.
Map the new IT infrastructures you want to the relevant business objectives - that way you can prioritise and plan out your timescales.
The implementation of your strategy
It’s important to stay involved with your IT team as you implement the plan. You may need to change scope as the strategy comes into fruition and the best way to understand this is to hear it first hand from your employees.
Change can often be faced with irritation but it's important to understand the difference between reluctance to change, and genuine struggle with adoption. Be on hand to support your employees.
Process and documentation will be your friends during this process. You need everything to be clear and consistent so that your new IT systems are used as intended - there's no sense in putting a lot of time and effort into a transformation project, only for it to fail because everyone is using the new systems differently.
Keeping a rolling FAQ document will also be helpful - if you're constantly asked about the same topics, you'll know that more training and communication will be required to cover those areas.
Communicate often and reiterate the reasons for the changes you're making - you want all of your staff to know exactly why you're doing this, and what benefits they and the business will see from it. If there are no benefits to your employees (even simply saving time or effort), you should consider whether or not the change you've identified is the right one.
Meet the needs of your organisation
Your business strategy needs to be rooted in your business needs. Remember that IT should be an enabler and empowering tool, not a hindrance to your growth. The technology is out there, it’s just a case of research, investment and proper implementation.
SpiderGroup are IT experts and have helped many businesses carry out their IT and business strategy to achieve their goals. If you’d like some assistance with understanding how IT support can help you, get in touch with the team by calling us on 0117 933 0570 or you can fill in our contact form and we will get back to you.