Since you are reading this, and you happen to own or manage a small to medium sized business, you may be wondering, “what is an IT roadmap in the context of my business, and why would you need one?”
First off, let’s consider your business size. If you currently have fewer than 10 computers, and or employ fewer than 10 people, you most likely can get away with ad-hoc break-fix style of IT support. Although, there are some sub-10-size businesses that warrant strong managed support or the owner just wants great IT, regardless of size. So, you may want to read on if business continuity sounds like a desirable outcome for you.
World-class or enterprise-level IT support, scaled down to your size is a thing. Imagine having IT support that is modelled after a multi-national corporation that employs hundreds of thousands or even millions of people. That type of support must come with a planning mindset. A roadmap must inform the IT support and its future in that business. Smart Dolphins IT Solutions Virtual Chief Information Officers (vCIOs) works with each of our clients to develop a roadmap that lays out a businesses’ future in IT that is aligned to the overall business goals and strategy.
What is a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO)?
The vCIO collaborates with and advises clients or their IT departments. The vCIO performs the same functions as a conventional CIO. Those duties include formulating strategic IT goals, planning the IT budget, analyzing and reworking business processes and facilitating technology changes.
The vCIO helps businesses people maintain and secure their existing IT infrastructure. They also provide forward-looking services, such as developing long-term strategic IT goals and identifying opportunities to drive innovation, as well as business success and revenue.
VCIOs at Smart Dolphins simplify the IT planning process by helping professionals navigate the intricacies of IT, so that their time can be spent on what they do best. There are five essential elements that make up the secret sauce that goes into every successful IT roadmap.
#1 | Strategic business alignment
Your technology decisions should match up with your business goals, and this is the underlying objective we work with you to achieve. This is what we refer to as strategic business alignment. Strategic business alignment is ongoing. As your business goals change, your technology decisions need to continue to be aligned.
Does your industry have specific compliance regulations?
What technologies does your organization rely on?
What technologies can best support your current and future goals?
What IT challenges are you facing?
# 2 | IT leadership
Successful businesses typically have professional IT leaders, — those vCIOs mentioned earlier. Whether your organization has internal or outsourced IT, professional IT leadership is critical to success. At Smart Dolphins, every one of our clients has a dedicated vCIO assigned to them. That vCIO provides this important planning, strategic analysis, and strong, competent management.
#3 | Best practices and standards
There are unique needs for your organization, but there are also evolving best practices that apply across the board. Our job is to stay ahead of the technology curve, so that you don’t need to. We have built strong partnerships with our technology vendors and only implement technologies that are in line with world-class standards and best practices. And, because of the breadth and depth of our client base, we have the scale to help you best leverage your IT.
#4 | Short and long-term planning
We develop annual and quarterly plans which include a detailed medium to long-term budget. We do this so that you know exactly how your technology will support your business as it grows, and this ensures that we stay focused on our goals and that we have cost predictability for years into the future. It is through this careful planning process that we decide, for instance, which projects are necessary to meet the evolving needs of your organization.
Do we need a stronger focus on security?
What technologies can provide opportunities for your organization to operate effectively and efficiently?
How do we scale our technology for growth?
#5 | Ongoing business review
Change is imminent and perpetual in business as well as technology; they are in a constant state of change. Ongoing strategic consultation is just one of the many benefits of managed IT. We work hard to identify potential problems in advance – before they show up. Our dedicated, proactive team is always working behind the scenes to ensure your technology is aligned with your goals.
A POD of Smart Dolphins to help navigate the stormy waters of IT
Working with your vCIO is a dedicated vITM. A vITM is a Virtual IT Manager. This person is the technical eyes and ears of your infrastructure and works collaboratively with vCIOs to make sure that all the technical details are functioning as best as they can.
VITMs work with businesses to define, deliver and coordinate support for strategic plans in the implementation of IT assets. This means they work closely with the vCIO as well as your employees. They create action plans for recurring issues within your organization and act on them.
You are also assigned a vITM. You will get to know the POD, which includes a vCIO, vITM, a responsive helpdesk of familiar faces (or voices) and a friendly coordinator who will know your business well and will help organize reactive work should emergencies happen.
The power of great IT is in the POD and a very well-organized IT roadmap.
Is your IT team, or IT person, or outsourced IT provider busy creating a well-researched IT roadmap? Are they meeting with you regularly to inform its development?
If not and you are a small to medium sized business owner or manager, with approximately 10 or more computers, you may be at risk of technical debt.
Please contact Smart Dolphins IT Solutions for a consultation on how we can become your IT department; a natural extension of your business (which includes that roadmap, we have been reading about).