Start with an IT Assessment
If IT in a business is important, a recurring planning process should incorporate a thorough review that leads to a detailed plan and budget. There is no single, specific way to do this, but to have an impact it needs some attention and intention. It requires a collaboration between the business leaders and the IT function.
The IT function needs to do a thorough audit of the existing systems (a cursory and informal process will likely give a false sense of confidence in the process) and present the leaders a prioritized list of recommendations (ideally with cost estimates). The ensuing plan needs to consider the business both today and in the future, and the discussion should be about business outcomes (not tech talk).
As you might have guessed, this type of process is something Smart Dolphins has built into our approach with our Allies. We have a role in our company (Virtual IT Manager) that ignores the chaos of the day and audits our Ally’s systems against our best practices on a scheduled, recurring basis. This detailed information is passed to another role here (Virtual CIO) who creates an executive level review of the IT and helps the business leaders plan the future of the IT and the business.
Maybe more interesting for companies that don’t use Smart Dolphins is that we now offer a one-time IT Assessment that mirrors this core functionality that is often missing or weak in a small business. We can provide many small and medium sized businesses with a thorough review and an executive level report on many critical parts of the IT in the business. This offers you the opportunity to “know what you don’t know” about your own IT. We’ve built this service in a vendor neutral way so that the output can be used with any IT partner without threat that we’re really offering a veiled sales pitch for our solutions. You don’t need to use Smart Dolphins any further to benefit from the process.
Smart Dolphins’ IT Assessment is useful for organizations that are “happy with their current IT” but looking to build or enhance their annual IT planning process. You can benefit from the perspective of an objective third party who is a leader in codifying industry best practices. You can plan this around the timing of a pre-existing planning process that has historically been light on the IT element without much effort.