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Business professionals use IT to process orders, maintain financial records and communicate with customers and suppliers. Forecasting what hardware and software your business needs to remain competitive requires planning and organization.
You also need to generate a plan to maintain your environment, train your staff and support all employees who use the technology in their daily tasks. Assess your company needs. Gather your requirements from every level of your business.
Conduct focus groups or interview employees to learn what capabilities and features they need to do their jobs. Review work flow procedures to further understand the user requirements and your current business conditions. Identify the constraints, such as budget, that may impact your purchases.
Establish the operational metrics associated with your IT environment. For example, set goals for computer server performance, network availability and software application reliability.
Choose technology that can grow and change with your company and that supports your strategic objectives. Use templates, tools and resources provided by websites, such as the SCORE website, to help you decide how much you can spend on technology investments. Evaluate software and hardware products according to your needs.
Trade associations linked with your industry typically provide lists of vendors who provide industry-specific technology. Attend trade shows to see live demonstrations and speak with trained sales people.
Ensure that any software you purchase is compatible with your hardware technology solution platform. Develop a disaster readiness plan to cope with emergencies. If you depend on your technology to run your business every day of the week, you may need to establish a backup site so that you can run your operation in another location in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Use the resources provided by the Ready website to help you evaluate your options and develop a viable plan. Arrange for support services, such as installation, upgrades and troubleshooting for your business technology solutions.
Ensure that operations such as accounting, sales, inventory, order fulfillment and shipping can proceed without disruption during maintenance. Establish a robust security plan to ensure company data is protected. Provide training and support to your employees. Ensure additions to your IT environment integrate well with existing software and hardware.
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