Q4 is fast approaching and your mind should already be in 2020. As a business owner, it is important that you operate several quarters ahead of your business. That helps you anticipate future challenges and needs of your organization so you can course-correct early. One common argument to long term strategic planning is the inability to accurately predict the future. It is that inaccuracy that people use to diminish the value of strategic planning. That argument, and those like it, are wholesale false and dangerous.
Dismissing straetgy planning because of its inherent difficulty and subject to change is short sighted and dangerous. Strategies are theories and ideas used to unit people, give vision/purpose and try to reduce the compplexities of the future. Strategic planning requries experience, patience and a specific type of mind to do well.– Tony Mickle, CEO Purple Falcon Partners
Strategy planning delivers multiple layers of value to an organization. Most of that value has less to do about predicting the future and more about the impact it has today. Strategy planning achieves the following benefits for any organization:
- It will align people around a common shared vision of the future. This is the single most important aspect of strategic planning. Creating a shared vision develops unity and comradery which supports good cultures.
- Related to the first point, strategy planning creates self-fulfilling predictions. If you make those predictions based on sound facts and including others in the process you increase the chance of them coming true. For example, if you set a goal that is 20% higher then the year previously the organization is more likely to achieve that.
- It helps give people a sense of purpose and confidence. Organizations with good strategy plans that include other’s inputs create strong and healthy businesses. Think about a military, they are about to go into war (extreme example but the imagery helps) and they are all at base camp. The generals give everyone a pep speech and tell them to go win the war…then that’s it. The different divisions spend the rest of the time just doing their thing to win the war. That would be chaos. Strategy planning helps align people, that is how winning is done.
There are other benefits of strategy planning, others of which go into the specific value of the strategy planning itself. But for this article, the point I wanted to convey is that there is more to strategy planning then predicting the future.
IT Strategy planning
Strategy planning when you are a small business is difficult enough, IT strategy planning can seem impossible. The hard truth, it can be! You do not have the IT experience to develop a strategic plan and typically small businesses do not have or cannot afford the level of experience needed. So what does a small business owner do and why would you want to?
The benefit of IT Strategy Planning
Continuing off the points we made with strategy planning, IT strategy planning helps build confidence with your employees. Each one of them uses technology every day. The experience they have with that technology drives their productivity, moods, and confidence in the business itself. Having a strategic plan for your technology helps employees understand how technology will benefit them and improve their lives. If you include them in the strategic planning that will amplify the benefits and minimize the impact of any future IT troubles.
How to, IT Strategy Planning
The best question, how do you accomplish IT Strategy planning? For small businesses especially this is a very difficult question to answer. It all depends on your situation:
- If you have an IT person on staff with at least 8 years high level or leadership experience you are probably all set. Starting in September or October you should have an offsite meeting with your various divisions or departments. IT should be one of those that have an offsite meeting. Many business owners will have an offsite with everyone that lasts a week. That is a very efficient way to do it, but make sure you have follow up meetings. From those your IT person should be able to give you an IT strategy plan, you can use. You may need to tweak some of it to bring in a business focus, but for the most part, you will be good.
- The majority of small (and mid-sized) businesses use IT consultants and managed service providers. IT strategy planning gets really tricky. Either your IT consultant/MSP will include free strategy planning or not. Be careful of those that include free strategy planning. In the majority of cases, they include free strategic planning because they try to point you in the direction of technology they resell and mark up. For those IT consultants/MSPs that charge, if you can afford it the cost is worth it. The benefit your employees will receive through confidence and hope will increase overall productivity.
At Purple Falcon Partners strategy planning is included in each tier of our service
offering. We are a different kind of IT managed service provider. We deliver the
experience of a full IT department for a fixed monthly cost per employee. No extra
costs per hour or a block of time. Unlimited IT support with a fixed monthly cost!
Find out more at our website: https://www.purplefalconpartners.com/it-managed-services/
- The last option you have as a small business owner is to do it yourself. We caution about this approach because it can backfire. Unless you have an IT background that allows you to do good IT strategy planning the best approach is a crowdsourcing approach. Send out a survey or better, talk to employees about your technology. What do they like, what do they not like, what IT investments would make them happier or more productive? Use that feedback to put together an IT strategic plan that helps explain your approach for the next year.
It is very common that the feedback you receive will be around the use and support of technology. This is especially common when using an IT consultant or MSP. Usually, one person becomes the go-to contact for your employees for anything IT related. This is a result of how typical IT consultants and MSPs operate. They assign 1 person to your account or 1 good person with several lower experienced people to keep costs low. A lot of small businesses bring IT in-house at some point to improve support and technology adoption.
We at Purple Falcon Partners understand the challenges of providing amazing IT support to small businesses. We created our services with this in mind, fixed monthly pricing that includes unlimited support. That shows you we are committed to solving issues, not inflating support hours. Find out more on our website https://www.purplefalconpartners.com
You have an IT strategy plan…now what?
Let’s zoom out a bit, you should have several strategy plans from various business units or departments. IT is one of those plans and each one should be detailed:
- Defining the current state
- Defining a future state
- Acknowledge challenges & risks
- Explain the bridge plan to get from current to future states
- Define the metrics that will be used to measure success & progress
It is not uncommon for you the business owner to need to consolidate all the strategic plans into a single business plan. If you do that you will pull out the major points of each plan, typically from #2 or #4, or something related. However, the approach a communication is sent out after Thanksgiving, sometime in very early December. Use that communication to present the strategy plan(s) and acknowledge the successes of 2019. It is a great idea to do this at an end of year holiday event or some in-person event, if possible. Email is fine if it cannot be live, but consider delivering the message via recorded or live video. The goal is to get out the message, acknowledge the success of 2019 and prepare everyone for 2020.
2020, Don’t Stop
Once you get into 2020 don’t stop with strategy planning. You want to review the plans every quarter and make sure you measure success with the metrics that should have been included in each plan. It is true, each strategy plan will evolve based on a myriad of variables, some unforeseen. That is not the true goal of strategy planning, it is a tool of alignment and a business hack to create positive self-fulfilling prophecies. Make your 2020 great!
Purple Falcon Partners strive to help educate our customers and deliver value to all those that we have the honor of engaging. Thank you for reading this article and we encourage you to read our other articles on our blog at https://www.purplefalconpartners.com/pfp-it-news. If you are looking for a different kind of IT Managed Service provider take a look at our services at https://www.purplefalconpartners.com/it-managed-services or call us at (877) 494-7093.