All successful entrepreneurs would agree that a well prepared business plan is key to success. A good plan clearly outlines the firm’s mission, vision, key objectives, and key steps to success. However few business plans actually contain an information technology plan. True, most Hi-tech startups include an in-depth discussion on the technology that they will develop for the and market, as well as the design and implementation of the requisite infrastructure(s) needed to supporting this technology, however, this is not the same as an information technology plan. A good information technology plan is used to map out the details of how information will flow from internal and external sources, and between departments.
Why is an information technology plan so important?
Companies competing in today’s modern environment, must differentiate themselves more and more by leveraging technology to streamline their business processes, engage digital marketing and sales automation, communicate with a geographically dispersed workforce, and efficiently connect with customers. No doubt, having an information technology plan for your start-up company, which closely aligns with your business goals and objectives is necessary. There is no better place to layout the blueprints for this than in the business plan developed by your company’s founders.
Too often, CEOs view IT merely as a computer based process to hand off to the tech guys. They may limit their concern only to the systems that affect them directly (i.e. the company financial system, the company website, their own PC).
However, a forward thinking CEO views IT as a vehicle to enhance the operation, fuel the growth of their business and increase their bottom line. They engage technology to support achievement of the firm’s mission, vision and business objectives.
As the CEO of a startup, likely you are painfully aware that as your company grows and more data is stored in various systems, the more it becomes difficult, time consuming and costly to change to a new system. Adding an IT blueprint to your business plan allows you to budget for and plan the implementation of the most appropriate systems for the different areas of the company, as well as the interoperability of these different systems. It will also serve as a guide for identifying the ideal IT staff and the CIO capable of executing the approved IT strategies. In turn, the plan will serve as a clear direction and/or marching orders.
What essential things should you consider as you create your IT Plan?
What Information Technology Systems will each of your department(s) need right now to meet their objectives? What high level features do you foresee them needing ultimately to accomplish the business objective of the company?
After determining the type of information systems that will be needed, the next step is to look at the functional structure of the IT Department. Consider the following basic questions:
IT Department Structure:
Company IT Policies:
By no means are the topics and associated questions outlined above a comprehensive list of what should be considered. Rather, these are rough ideas to guide an entrepreneurs to think beyond the surface and take a closer look at how information technology systems can affect the business.
As a Start-up company founder, you do not need to be a technology expert to formulate a high-level plan for the use of IT. However finding a technology partner who is experienced with working with start-up organizations and planning information technology systems can help.