Building a Strategic Technology Plan Part 1

Growing pains are a natural part of a successful business. This milestone is often marked by a need for a larger space, more employees and, invariably, better technology to support it all. Part of this success comes from executing on a sound business plan developed in the early stages.  Revisiting this practice not only helps continue the growth pattern, but can save your business exponentially in technology spending over the long-term.

Software and businesses support technology is often purchased to solve an immediate need rather than as a strategic decision. Leaders are not as familiar with current advanced solutions that may provide the greatest benefit. However, a focused requirements list can help you get to where you need to be today and years into the future.

Security in a Solid Technology Plan

Security is quickly becoming a top priority for all businesses as breaches occur more frequently and carry more serious repercussions. Protecting your data and preventing intrusion into your system should be the first consideration in your plan. You are not just protecting yourself; you’re protecting your customers and the longevity of your company.

When security breaches occur they cost a large business a little more than $400 per capita.  They can and do occur to small startup ventures as well. When they do, the effect is almost four times higher, nearly $1600+ per capita1 for the smaller enterprise and the damage to their reputation can be insurmountable.

Look for providers who offer flexible solutions backed up by a security guarantee. Find one that provides maintenance and training with a detailed service plan. Software is just one consideration and your selected partner should also offer training for employees with process evaluations and guidance. You need to then make this a mandatory annual review for your staff, working with the technology firm to ensure every base is covered.

Infrastructure Software and Storage

No business should be keeping critical data on a stand-alone system without adequate backups in place. This is why your technology plan needs to consider how employees access data, how they share it and where it will all be stored. You have options available to meet specific needs like CRM and billing services, as well as which partner offers the most comprehensive value.

Information as a Service (IaaS) allows companies to access immediate software benefits without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on installing and maintaining local servers, hiring technical staff and paying for all the added hardware to keep them running.  Services can start for as little as $110 for off-site, secure storage facilities and collocation arrangement. As your needs grow, additional services are scalable to fit your business well into the future.

You have the right to ask and the responsibility to know exactly where your data is stored and what recovery fail-safe processes are in place. “The Cloud” is nothing more than an easy to remember term for a server located somewhere. Furthermore, the FTC is now levying fines on companies that fail to secure customer data. This is part of a larger effort to prompt business owners to take data security seriously and plan for it.
Case Study: Car Outlet suffered a fire in their main facility that handled contract data and financing for the business. Working with DLS as their technology partner, it took just minutes to reroute company calls to employee cell phones and, within two days, Car Outlet’s staff was back at work helping customers and rebuilding critical business files, thanks, in part, to their remotely hosted storage system.

Disaster recovery capabilities are also a security priority. Whether you opt for off-site storage or network attached private storage, consider your process steps in the event of an office fire or a flood.  How long will it take your business to resume as normal? How will you retrieve data and what parts of your business will be most at risk?  Your office might be knee-deep in flood waters, or burned to the ground, but you and your staff could be sitting in the local coffee shop conducting business as if nothing happened.

Both components need to be incorporated into a larger technology plan. Today, your business may only be looking for a CRM solution, but five years from now, you will need stronger capabilities to support a multi-user platform with strong virtualization capability. Consider that your immediate plan should include a solution partner that has the longevity and technical capability to grow with you.

  1. October 2014 Global Report on the Cost of Cyber Crime conducted by the Ponemon Institute

Continued in part 2