IT Support Houston
8 Steps to Getting Maximum Value out of Your IT Investment
Have you ever asked yourself “Will this new “X” technology or delivery method make our end users more productive or reduce what it costs us to deliver technology to our end users?”
That is the ultimate question any CxO, small business owner, or line-of-business manager should be asking of themselves, the internal IT support team or any external IT consultants. That is it.
For small businesses, medium and large businesses alike, technology should be a tool that improves end user productivity or reduces the cost of delivering these services to the end users. That is it.
It really should be that simple. Almost every technology decision should be measured against this benchmark.
Small mom-and-pop businesses to large multi-nationals sometimes lose sight of what they are buying when the proposals for hardware, software, and IT consulting services start showing up.
Of course the parts and pieces needed for a given solution should be scrutinized, but focusing solely on the cost of the “stuff” might make you miss the forest for the trees.
All of this “stuff” should be solving a larger problem.
We decide to buy a new car because we want a certain end result – we need more reliable transportation, we want the freedom a car can provide, or we want to show off our success, etc.
We decide to go out to dinner instead of cooking to achieve a certain end result. Maybe it is to avoid cooking, maybe it is for the experience a great meal or nice restaurant promises, or maybe to set the proper atmosphere for a meeting or date. We are paying for an end result; we are not caught up in calculating what we are really paying for the potatoes.
Technology and IT support should be viewed through the same lens. A $10,000 piece of hardware or a $500,000 package of software might be expensive or a complete no-brainer depending upon what end result you expect to gain with that purchase.
“We may purchase software and servers, but really we are buying an end result.”
What perspective do you take when you make a technology purchase? What “end result” are you getting with your technology investment? Were you able to buy the “end result” you hoped to achieve with your last technology purchase?
Here are eight suggestions to help you get more out of your technology investment or at least more out of your next round of purchases.
- Define the big objective: At a high level, what do you want technology to be able to do for your business?
- Define the biggest issues that are hindering your progress toward that goal. Rank them in order of importance. Look for common themes or related problems that there might be a single solution for. If you can take an additional step and identify what the real cost associated with those problems are in terms of time, money or other resources, making the differentiation will be easier.
- Evaluate your existing technology capabilities against your issues list. Are you getting full value out of the technology investment you have made? Is there any other added value you can get out of your present technology investment that can help you reach your goals?
- Engage experts in your key technologies. Do you have in house expertise to help you evaluate your technology capabilities? If not find a subject matter expert that can help you. A free phone call or a small consulting fee could be a small price to pay if some of your issues can be resolved with your sunk technology investment.
- Evaluate your technology services delivery model. Is there a more cost effective way to deliver the technology your end users need than what you are doing today? Do you need to own a specific technology to benefit from it? Would having an application delivered from the application developer or having desktops or applications delivered from a managed services provider or hosting provider make sense for your business?
- Evaluate how you manage your technology investment. Do you have the tools to effectively see and manage the entire technology infrastructure in your environment? After 15 years of being in IT consulting, I will tell you that if you do not have the tools in place to manage your infrastructure, you are not going to be nearly as efficient as a competitor with tools in place.
- Find technology to fill the gaps. Once the issues have been identified, prioritized, and present technology capabilities thoroughly evaluated, gaps will typically appear between the stated vision and reality. Only at this step should you look at adding more complexity by finding those technologies that can help eliminate the identified gaps. Identifying what the gaps are costing you or identifying potential productivity improvements will put you in the best possible position to compare the cost of solutions from vendors against expected gains.
- Create a plan to implement your changes. Very little happens in IT that does not impact some other group or technology already in place. Create a plan that takes into consideration all of the other technology systems that are going to have to be touched or upgraded for a new project before beginning. This can save countless consulting hours and go a long way to maintaining or even improving the end user experience when proper expectations can be set and met.
Technology is just a tool to improve business productivity or cut the cost of doing business. Too many large and small environments alike that we see look like they were built with no real plan in mind and suffer from significant inefficiencies as a result. They look like a bunch of individual technology solutions bolted together, usually with some overlap and duplication to some degree instead of a single cohesive technology infrastructure.
As a bonus 9th tip, take some time and look for the applications and equipment that are no longer in use that are wasting time and resources every time they have to be touched. Audits are great tools to find technology that is no longer in use. In some instances consolidation opportunities arise where two single purpose solutions grown in their respective silos to a point where their functionality can be consolidated into a single solution.
As a bit of a paradox, we typically find that the environments that could benefit the most from this process are the same IT support organizations that are least likely to implement them because they are all running around putting out fires on a daily basis and do not feel they have the time to do projects that will save them time.