The first step in creating a technology plan for your small business, or big business, is to understand clearly what you have now. This doesn’t mean you need to do a software audit, or hardware inventory. You need to understand the applications you use to run your business, and the current flow of information throughout the buisiness and to and from customers and suppliers.
The next step is to decide where you want to go. What do you want to get from your network. Would it be best to focus on improving productivity? Then you’ll perhaps automate your order entry process. Does it make more sense to add sales? Then add or fine tune your sales force automation software.
Now compare your assessment from the first step with the results from the second step and peform a simple gap analysis. What do we want and what do we have? As part of the anaylsis you should take in to account any small business technology trends that may be beneficial to your business.
Before putting your plan to paper review our small business networks guidelines article. It’s a series of small articles describing what your technology should look like and which areas you should devote your money and personal resources too.
Now for the most important part! Create a strategy to complement your technology plan. We’ve run across so many small businesses that create a very nice technology plan but they have no strategy for putting it in to place. The strategic plan is simply a list of the milestones in your technology plan, and a path to reach them.
If the first part of your technology planning is to upgrade your servers the corresponding piece of the strategic plan should look something like this:.
Upgrade the main file server:
Purchase a Dell Server #000145 at $2300 by August
Purchase an upgrade of the Windows server software
Upgrade the tape drive and backup software
Perform the upgrade by September 15th.
Re-deploy the existing server as a test server for the IT department.
Test the upgrade and move on to step 2, the accounting workstation upgrades
Nothing overly complicated but it allows you to track your progress. Think of the technology plan as where do you want to go? The strategic plan is, How are we going to get there?