Business solutions and cloud computing have really changed information technology and business in general. Over the past several years, corporations relied on technology and information systems to streamline almost every part of their operations. Today, cloud computing and the Software as a Service or SaaS pricing model brings the same comprehensive business suites and tools to small and home businesses.
Businesses that are moderate in size face the most challenges when it comes to IT implementations. To overcome these challenges, having a strong IT team is the way to go. Fortunately, the best businesses are starting to take their IT department more seriously. With these tips and tricks that we are about to discuss in this article, you can do the same with your business.
Start on the Right Foot
If you are thinking about setting up an internal IT department or team to lead the way, starting it the right way is an important first step to take. What you want is a group of people with specific skills and a broad understanding of business processes. These people are more difficult to find than programmers or IT experts, but they are the perfect candidates for your IT department.
People with knowledge in both IT and business have the most ability to translate business needs into solutions that the business can actually use. In fact, the best CTOs and industry experts started their careers in business before learning how to code and venturing into the world of business solutions and suites.
Fortunately, the education scene is responding to this growing need. Top computer science degrees now include courses in business management and business processes. Many universities add additional classes to help students – future IT experts – understand the businesses they will be working in better.
Some business owners even go as far as pursuing a computer science degree themselves; that’s how important IT is for the future of your business. You too can find computer science degree options here through educations.com and choose a degree to pursue while managing your business. Online programs make studying while working a fulltime job or running a business possible.
Plan for Continuous Development
Speaking of education, having a clear plan to develop the IT team on a continuous basis is also an important ingredient to success. It is not a secret that IT is constantly changing. Even programming languages and frameworks receive regular updates. Software gets better and solutions are equipped with new features and better ways to integrate them with other solutions by the day.
All of these changes will affect your business, particularly your IT department’s effectiveness. The sooner you can adapt to these changes, the sooner you can benefit from the new technology and features. Even a simple update to a better version of PHP and MySQL can help reduce server load and requirement by a substantial margin. That reduced server load translates to savings in hosting or cloud computing costs so that you can see how IT is directly affecting your bottom line.
Aside from computer science degrees, there are short courses, certification programs, and internal training guidelines that you can use to further enhance your business’s IT team. What’s important is having a clear development plan so that every member of the team can improve and learn new things in their own way.
Invest in a Good Workflow
Having a clear set of goals is a must not only because it allows you to know exactly where you need to be, but also because it enables you to create an effective workflow that supports your journey towards achieving those objectives. Having a good workflow is so important that you should invest in setting one up before moving forward with other tasks.
So, how do you set up a good workflow? In IT, the process begins with understanding business requirements and the objectives that you want to achieve. Once these basics are covered, it is easier to develop clear IT policies. The policies then act as guidelines for other IT functions, including the selection of business solutions and other parts of your business’s IT ecosystem.
When choosing a server technology to use, for instance, having a clear understanding of business requirements allows the IT team to recommend the most cost-efficient and effective solution accordingly. The same can be said for business solutions and even hardware used around the office. The rest of the process can follow the same meticulous pattern to allow the IT team to perform better.
Check the Bottom Line
As explained in a previous example, the IT solutions you use can affect your business operations in more ways than you realize. Sometimes, a simple IT solution can alter your bottom line entirely; simple steps taken to make a workflow more efficient can boost your profits by a substantial margin. You can actually promote this approach and allow the IT team to explore new ways to improve the business as a whole.
The way to do that is by giving back some of the improvements the team makes. When you get an additional $100,000 in profits because of IT implementations, giving back 5% of that amount as a token of appreciation for the IT team is incredibly effective. It won’t take long before you start seeing more innovations and better solutions being presented to existing issues.
A good reward system works even better when it is balanced. Using the bottom line as a metric also means you can use it to measure failures. You don’t have to punish the IT team with severe penalties for not improving the business, but the evaluation alone should be more than enough to motivate team members to innovate more.
Last but not least, always ask for exactly what you need. Despite the skills of your business’s IT officers, giving them clear commands is still the best way to get good results every time. Besides, good communication will also improve the IT team as a whole. They can work better and be more efficient when they know exactly what they need to achieve.
Asking for solutions is a simple process, but many business owners don’t like to do it for some reason. Not knowing the technical side of information technology – and not wanting to look stupid for not knowing – is the most prominent reason of them all. Here’s one tip to keep in mind: your IT team is there to help you. They’re the smart, technical ones.
Whenever you see a problem within the business and you want technology to be the solution, give the IT team a clear command. Discuss the problem in detail, give the team additional insights, allow team members to perform their own analysis, and let them do their work properly. The solutions you get in return are often so much better than any existing solution on the market.
Don’t Forget Infrastructure
There is one more way you can boost the capabilities of your IT team substantially, and that is by offering team members the perfect working environment. IT specialists depend on the computers they use and other supporting hardware. Asking your IT guy to utilize an old computer is certainly not the best way to go.
It is the IT department’s job to maintain everything related to information technology, so providing them with good infrastructure is a must. Your IT team will be stronger than ever this way.