Many modern businesses are evolving technologically as the digital world continues to grow. To keep up with new demands and markets, brands are investing in online tools to streamline specific business functions. This includes digital platforms, such as inventory management software and data reporting systems.
These solutions can help businesses of all sizes reach their goals and stay competitive in their industry. However, before allocating capital to these technologies, management teams need to strategize a technology plan.
What is Technology Planning?
Technology planning refers to the process of outlining the technical evolution of a business or its processes to achieve goals. Management teams and program directors will typically collaborate to decide which digital tools are beneficial for the business. For example, they may look for solutions that will help increase employee morale, improve customer service, or boost productivity. Generally, technology planning will also encompass technology forecasting, scheduling projections, and creating a technology roadmap.
These activities will help top leaders identify what objectives the technical tools will achieve and when. It will also give brands insight into how their existing systems can evolve technologically to address future needs. By planning what tools are appropriate for a company, management teams can ensure that they are making the right investment. Additionally, planning will effectively empower the organization with key information about its performance.
8 Steps to Create a Technology Plan
Organizations that want to revamp their technology usage or upgrade to new digital tools should follow these steps to create a technology plan.
1. Create A Technology Planning Team
A technology plan should have ideas that reflect the entire organization. Therefore, creating a planning team that includes a wide range of employees across all departments is important. A typical planning committee will include a project manager, executive director, administrative assistant, accountant, and system administrator.
When beginning the planning process, leaders should assign responsibilities and goals for each member. The team should also have a regular meeting schedule so they can collaborate and review the technology plan.
2. Examine Existing Technology
Once a committee is established, members should take inventory of the software and hardware systems that the company currently uses. This will allow the team to make sure they are examining all technologies in the organization. It may be helpful to have a technology consultant at this stage, in case the team needs a specialist. When performing an assessment, the team should consider these key questions.
What system works well?
How does the company benefit from its current technology?
Do the tech operations need improvements?
What parts are replaceable and which are not?
Are any repairs needed?
3. Outline Priorities of the Technology Plan
The team needs to identify the main goals of their technology plan. Generally, companies will prioritize their strategy to solve a problem, like replacing an obsolete legacy system.
Sometimes, a brand may focus its plan on leveraging new opportunities. Businesses can determine what their priorities are by using their assessment from the previous step. That audit will help teams gain insight into issues in their existing tech infrastructure.
4. Identify Tech Solutions
Now that the team has an idea of what their tech goals are, they can explore different solutions. This step requires extensive research into various hardware, software, and other digital tools. A restaurant, for example, may look for specific inventory management software that can accommodate their growing list of ingredients.
5. Create A Budget for the Plan
A budget for the new tools needs to be created to protect the business's bottom line. It is recommended that the team breaks down the various costs of a system to accurately plan a budget. The team should consider the different long-term and short-term expenses.
For example, most systems will have costs related to data storage, network, IT labor, and add-on features. The budget should have capital reserved for these various expenses.
6. Find a Tech Vendor
The team can then look for a vendor or tech tool that aligns with their needs and budget. Typically, software providers have scalable packages, in which brands can purchase specific features that will help them achieve their objectives. It is important that the team does comprehensive research and compares different vendors. This will ensure that the organization will invest in the right tools and prevent delays in its technology plan.
7. Develop a Timeline
After a vendor or technology partner is selected, the team needs to outline a timeline for implementation. This involves setting deadlines or benchmarks for integrating software and training employees on how to use it. A date should also be set for the assessment of the new technologies. On these days, the team should meet and examine the effectiveness of the system and their goal achievement progress.
8. Draft and Implement the Technology Plan
At this stage, the team is equipped with key information regarding its goals, budget, solutions, and timeline. These elements can finally be drafted into a document. The following are other key details that the technology plan should include.
Overview of the current tech system
List of tools the company needs to purchase
Employee training process
Once the draft is created and reviewed, the company can begin the implementation process. This involves following the tech plan timeline and procuring the new digital tools or integrating existing systems. After the strategy is in action, the technology planning team should meet quarterly to discuss any adjustments that need to be made.
Businesses need to take advantage of technological advancements to stay competitive and maximize their potential. They can begin this process of modernization by creating a technology plan.