IT Strategy Consulting – When Is It Time to Ask for Help?

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When Is The Right Time To Utilize IT Strategy Consulting?

If you don’t have a comprehensive IT strategy currently in place, then now’s the time to seek the professional assistance of an IT strategy consulting service. Without a solid IT strategy, you could find yourself in danger of falling behind the competition in a landscape where industries are constantly evolving and businesses are routinely adopting new technologies. However, knowing where to even begin can be overwhelming, especially since it can be a time-consuming task to audit your existing systems and to identify new technology solutions that will actually benefit your organization. An IT strategy consulting service can help guide you through this process. Even if you have an existing IT strategy, it won’t hurt to have it evaluated by a professional team of consultants.

An Overview Of IT Strategy

A good IT strategy needs to consist of several different components. First, take an inventory of all the different systems and applications currently being used across your organization. You will then need to identify how effective those systems and applications are performing. This will allow you to perform a gap analysis, which identifies areas in which your IT infrastructure is lacking, which will help guide you to deciding what types of IT solutions you need to invest in. Your IT strategy needs to include an IT budget and a spending forecast for the next two to three years as well. On top of that, it should include opportunity analyses for new and emerging technologies.

What is The Scope Of Strategy Consulting Firms

When working with an IT consulting firm, they will take these steps to develop a comprehensive IT strategy:

Identifying Goals

IT strategies should be customized to fit the needs of the organization. This is done by identifying what the company’s goals are. Your IT strategy should focus on identifying IT solutions that can help your company achieve its goals. Aligning your IT strategy with your business goals can help improve your ROI, improve customer satisfaction and support, and reduce the risk associated with technology change. You’ll get more out of your existing IT infrastructure and any additional technology you invest in if they are leveraged toward improving business processes and operations and achieving your business goals.

Clear and Defined Success Metrics

IT consultants will evaluate your existing IT infrastructure by using a variety of metrics to benchmark IT spending, IT staffing, and the state of existing IT management practices throughout your organization. They will also use a variety of different metrics to analyze how your current applications are performing in relation to your business goals.

Incorporating Latest Technology Trends

Keeping up to date with all the latest technology can be quite difficult. New technology being adopted in one industry may not be useful in another. IT consultants will do thorough research into the newest technologies being used within your industry in order to determine if those technologies can benefit your organization. If so, they will help incorporate those latest technology trends into your existing IT infrastructure.

Studying Organizational Impact

Besides using metrics to judge the performance of your existing IT systems and software, IT consultants will also study how the introduction of new technologies could impact your organization. For example, in addition to how a new IT solution might benefit your company on paper, how long will it take for employees to learn to use the new technology effectively? Will it require extensive training? How will it change their workflow? Will there be new job tasks and responsibilities that need to be assigned by managers? These are all examples of how the introduction of new IT solutions can impact your organization and they must be taken into consideration. 

When Should You Seek A Consulting Firm?

Here are some specific examples of situations in which your business could benefit from the professional guidance of an IT consulting firm:

When You Need Help With Decision Making

A good IT strategy should establish who is ultimately in charge of making decisions about what IT solutions to invest in as well as the process that this individual (or group of individuals) needs to follow to come to this decision. Without such a strategy, you may have difficulty figuring out who is in charge of making such decisions. This can be tricky if you have two different teams requesting two different software applications that they believe will help them do their jobs more effectively —  and you realize that those applications are very similar. How do you decide whether their request should be approved or declined? How do you choose between the two? If you’re running into issues such as these in regards to decision making, you need the help of a consulting firm.

When You’re Not Sure if IT is Optimally Enabling Your Business

If you can’t tell whether or not your current IT systems and applications are helping your business or whether they may be limiting your business, then you need someone who can perform a thorough audit of your existing IT infrastructure. A consulting firm will be able to identify what IT solutions are currently helping your business processes and what IT solutions need to be updated, upgraded, replaced, or simply eliminated.

When Your Company Has Outgrown Your IT Systems (or Department)

At some point it may become obvious that your existing IT systems and software are no longer capable of handling your business processes because your company has outgrown them. If this is the case, then a consulting firm can help you create a plan for how to make efficient use of your IT budget to bring your IT infrastructure up to speed. Outgrowing your IT systems can happen when you’ve been depending on older IT solutions and haven’t invested in new technologies for some time.

To Assist With a Merger or Acquisition

Both mergers and acquisitions can be incredibly complex. Both businesses in such cases will have their own separate IT infrastructures. You will need to implement a plan to either combine those infrastructures into one or to absorb one infrastructure into the other. This will require an in-depth analysis of the IT systems of both companies to determine what systems and applications should be kept. In some cases, you may be using the same applications, which will make it easier to integrate. However, in other cases, you may find that different systems or applications are being used to achieve the same function, which means you’ll have to explore what to keep and what to eliminate. 

Performing such an analysis can be very time-consuming and complicated. However, you’ll need to move to a single IT infrastructure as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the more it will hinder your operations and processes. An IT consulting firm will be able to assist with the IT aspects of a merger or acquisition by not only performing a thorough audit, but by helping to create a more comprehensive IT strategy that includes how the merging of IT systems and applications will occur.

When Your Company Is Transforming

If your company is growing, then your IT capabilities will need to grow with you. Some of your existing IT solutions may be scalable, but there’s a good chance that not all of them will be. And growth isn’t always about size — your company may expand its business capabilities, in which case you may need new IT solutions. A consulting firm will perform the research necessary to determine what solutions are needed to address the new requirements that have resulted from the growth of your organization — both in the present and in the future. 

To Prepare Employees For Change

Even if you have a pretty good grasp on what new technology your company needs to invest in over the course of the next few years, a consulting firm can be very helpful when it comes to implementing that technology. Make sure your new technology is successfully integrated with your existing IT infrastructure. Additionally, new technology isn’t going to do your business much good if your employees don’t know how to use it. Professional consultants can help train employees to learn how to use new technology and adapt to new processes resulting from that new technology. Without proper training, it can take a long time for employees to adapt to a new way of doing things.

To Address Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to any hardware or software that’s implemented without the knowledge of your IT department. This can happen when teams or departments download free software apps that can help with their processes. While shadow IT can sometimes be helpful to the departments or teams that decide to implement them, they can result in major issues.

Using shadow IT isolates that team or department from the rest of the company, causing information silos that can affect cross-team or cross-department communication. This can also affect the accuracy of your data analytics. Secondly, shadow IT is a serious security risk. New hardware and software needs to be rigorously tested before it can be implemented to ensure that there are no security vulnerabilities. If this isn’t done, it could potentially compromise your entire IT infrastructure.

If you have a comprehensive IT strategy in place, shadow IT will not be an issue. Not only will you have a complete inventory of all of your hardware and software, but your employees won’t have to take it upon themselves to meet certain IT needs. This is because you will have addressed those needs as a part of your IT strategy.

To Establish Communication with Senior Leadership

One of the reasons why many businesses fall behind when it comes to technology is due to a lack of clear communication between departments and senior leadership. Senior leaders will be hesitant about investing in new technology when they don’t understand why the technology is needed. They need it explained to them, especially if the company seems to be doing fine without it. With a comprehensive IT strategy in place, they’ll know what’s needed over the next few years in terms of IT investment and why, eliminating any misunderstandings or disagreements. 

For example, if your IT strategy outlines a plan to migrate your company data to the cloud, then you won’t need to explain the details of it to the CFO. It’s part of your overall IT strategy, which aligns with your business strategy, which means that they can approve it immediately

Benefits of Asking for Help Earlier

While there are many situations that call for the assistance of an IT consulting firm, you shouldn’t wait for one of these situations to arise. Working with an IT consulting firm as early on as possible will benefit your organization in the following ways:

  • Address any concerns on technology change – Changing from one technology to another can cause a lot of changes throughout your organization. Department heads as well as employees may have concerns about any technology changes you plan on making, such as how it will affect existing business processes and workflows. An IT consultant will be able to answer any questions and address any concerns about such changes and better prepare everyone for the switch.
  • Implement a comprehensive action plan – By creating an IT roadmap, you get everybody within your organization on the same page. A plan will help reduce mistakes and miscommunication as well as increase confidence in your company’s ability to adapt to the future of your industry.
  • Enhance collaboration – Employees are more likely to inform you about their IT needs as well as provide ideas for IT solutions if they see that you have an IT strategy in place that includes a process for communicating such ideas and needs to leadership. IT consultants can help break down communication silos throughout your organization via the implementation of certain technologies that encourage communication and collaboration.
  • Enhance service levels – A strong IT strategy won’t just enhance processes on the business end of things — it will also help enhance your service levels, thereby increasing customer satisfaction. By addressing important IT needs and implementing new technologies that makes it easier for your employees to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, your organization’s service levels will improve.

Risks of Seeking Guidance Too Late

In addition to there being a lot of advantages to working with a IT consulting firm early on, there are also a number of disadvantages to waiting too long to seek out professional IT assistance. You could risk:

  • Falling behind the competition – Market research is an important part of creating an IT strategy. Your industry may have adopted new technologies that are improving the efficiency of certain processes and reducing overhead. If you’re not keeping up with the same technology trends that your competitors are implementing, you can fall behind in a number of ways: your service levels may fall behind your competitors, your competitors may be saving money by using technology that boosts their efficiency, and they likely have more resources to compete against you.
  • Lacking resources due to poor planning – If you wait too long to have an audit performed on your existing IT infrastructure, you may come to realize that theIT needs that have to be addressed have now piled up. These include the needs of both your employees and your customers. These needs will only continue increasing throughout the future, which means the longer you wait to address them, the more resources it will take to meet them all — and if you wait too long, you may find that you don’t have enough resources to do so.
  • Poor investment of your IT budget – IT consultants will help identify the most pressing IT needs within your organization. Without a thorough analysis of your current IT systems, you may invest in IT solutions that prove to be less effective than you thought they’d be, resulting in a poor or lower than expected ROI.
  • Implementing the wrong IT solutions – Even worse than investing in IT solutions that don’t have as big of an impact as you’d hoped is investing in solutions that have no place in your business. You might replace an existing software with a different application, only to find that the new application is much more limited than what you already had. In such a case, not only have you wasted money, but you’ve actually hurt the processes and operations of your business.
  • Vulnerable IT infrastructure – Without a proper strategy in place, there’s a greater chance that you have shadow IT. This vulnerability puts your organization at a greater risk of security breaches, loss of data, and the failure to protect the privacy of employees, customers, and business partners, and causing non-compliance issues).
  • Damaging relationships with external partners – IT consultants can help address issues with your IT systems and software. Without their guidance, there may be issues that hinder your ability to communicate clearly with external partners or to perform the tasks that are required of you in an efficient and effective way. This can result in damaged relationships with these partners. This is especially true if you’re not adopting new technologies that could help reduce costs and improve services for your partners. If there are data breaches as a result of IT vulnerabilities, the trust your partners have in your capabilities will be severely marred. 

There Are No Rules on When to Ask For Help

It doesn’t matter what industry you belong to, it’s only going to get more competitive. It’s one of the reasons why more and more businesses are turning to IT consulting services to help ensure that their technology is up-to-date and that they are making the best use of their systems and software. Technology is moving at such a fast pace that you can no longer expect there to be a certain way of doing things. You need to be on your toes, ready to adapt to major disruptions and to adopt new technologies. The best way to do this? By working with a professional IT consulting firm to create a comprehensive IT strategy.

Increase your business success with our comprehensive IT strategy consulting services. Contact us and start today.