By Tim Britt, CEO of Synoptek
During economic downturns, organizations must be more discriminating about their technology spend and ensure clear results for those investments they do make. Many organizations experienced revenue declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are just now beginning to make the necessary budget adjustments that required to right-size their investments. Over the past decade, organizations have invested heavily in technology and shored up many of their capabilities; however, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do. How can organizations continue to make progress, while also being tasked with reducing project investments and operating budgets? Fortunately, there are opportunities to focus on more impactful projects and reduce operating expenses to fund these initiatives.
Here are five ways decision makers can make better technology investments while facing pressure to reduce budgets. These steps provide a way to make the CEO and the CFO happy, while also continuing to enable results for your organization.
Plan and Prioritize
Seismic shifts in business and economic conditions, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, can fundamentally change the priorities of an organization. Most businesses fail to truly recognize and address the magnitude, impact and adjustments required to address these changes. Often, business leaders will choose to fine-tune their organization’s initiatives and miss making larger, more fundamental adjustments. This does not have to be a long, time-intensive process. In fact, it should be quick and agile, so that when business and economic shifts happen, you can pivot in real-time without missing a beat.
When evaluating change initiatives be sure to engage key business stakeholders in your decision-making process. Gather their insight and then challenge their assumptions to collectively determine the degree of latitude required. Use these external shifts as an opportunity to share the trade-offs, priorities and strategy to tackle challenges head on. For example, if you are in the middle of a major enterprise resource planning (ERP) project, but your business has shifted from 90 percent in-store to 90 percent home delivery in span of a few short weeks, resources may need to be dramatically reallocated to adjust the project to meet these needs, as well as fortify your organization’s e-commerce capabilities.
Unfortunately, while the demand and need for enabling technology investments within your organization is growing, your budget is likely shrinking in the current climate. This forces organizations to buckle down and rationalize where to make budget cuts and where to continue to invest. The good news is that there are typically opportunities to reduce ongoing project and operating costs by anywhere from 15-35 percent without significantly compromising business outcomes. However, this takes discipline and an assertive action plan. You need to identify systems that are no longer in use that can be shut down, like redundant systems, and look for services where contracts can be renegotiated. Through this rationalization process it is then possible to recapture operating and project expenses that can be reallocated to new mission-critical priorities.
Integrate and Automate
Today, businesses are being asked to accomplish more with a “yes.” This means high productivity levels are critically important. As a key decision maker, your organization will benefit from your assistance in automating processes and integration of systems to enable improved workforce effectiveness. Automation and integration help address the current challenges many businesses are facing as a result of COVID-19, from reducing costs and increasing efficiency, to creating a virtual workforce. Organizations that automate and integrate have a strategic advantage over those that don’t.
Today’s organizations have a tremendous amount of data at their fingertips, which can be used to identify patterns, gain insight and improve the business overall. Anomalies to these data patterns can also drive actions and decision-making processes. Business data analytics insights allow leaders to better understand the subtleties of the organization, anticipate market trends and changes and manage risk. AI-enabled cloud applications and technologies can provide low barrier to entry, improve customer experience, create more secured networks and enable higher quality customer service. By providing better access and visibility to data and analytical insights, you can both improve business results and IT results.
In a new physically and socially distanced world, critical applications remain vital, while new components become key necessities. For example, if your organization only had an average of 50 remote workers prior to COVID-19, remote access infrastructure and systems may not have been considered critical. However, if that number grows to 1,000 within one week, then the remote access infrastructure becomes a critical enabler of productivity. Therefore, both critical applications and new components must be fortified to ensure workforce productivity is never negatively impacted by external and internal shifts.
Making your technology investments a priority in the current digital landscape is key; however, ensuring your organization is getting the most out of its technology investments is an absolute necessity. By taking a more strategic and in-depth approach to your technology investments, you will help transform your organization into a stronger, more successful business that will endure the current pandemic and any future challenges.
About the Author
Tim Britt is the CEO and co-founder of Synoptek, a global consulting and IT services firm focused on delivering results for its customers. Britt has served as a strategic executive in the capacity of CEO and CIO for the past 25 years. He has provided strategic consulting both in his current role at Synoptek and with dozens of prior strategy and operational consulting firms serving Disney, Levi Strauss, Home Depot, Jusco and others.
Britt holds an industrial engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. He lives in Irvine, California with his wife and four children, and enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, running, fishing and other outdoor activities as well as dedicating himself to philanthropic interests in the areas of conservation and education.