Formulating an IT/ E-Business Strategy

Source Enterprise Ireland

To remain competitive and retain customers, many SMEs are going to face a requirement to continuously improve their IT/eBusiness capability. This is particularly true of those subject to international competition or dealing with large customers. This Guide is designed to highlight the key steps that you need to take to formulate an effective IT/eBusiness strategy.

You should apply a structured approach to strategy formulation. Here is one possible set of steps to follow. Do bear in mind that detailed consultation with those likely to be affected, is vital and that decisions must be based on facts. Use of independent expertise may be helpful.

Step 1. Review your Business Strategy

Your ICT (eBusiness and IT) facilities are there to help you implement your business strategy. You thus need to be very clear on your overall business strategy, before deciding what ICT facilities you need.

Step 2. Review problems and potential risks

(e.g. lack of security) with your existing ICT set up.

Step 3. Identify business problems

e.g. stock outs, long lead times, lack of available information etc., excessive staff time spend compiling reports etc. that could potentially be improved by better use of IT. Consider also any competitive advantage you could gain by applying IT in a new way.

Step 4. Identify possible Projects

Identify possible ICT projects that could address the above opportunities and problems. These projects may involve buying new facilities, changing the way you work, or simply training people so they actually make full use of the facilities they already have.

Step 5. Compare Costs versus Benefits for each possible project

Attempt to estimate the true cost of each potential initiative and compare these with the likely benefits.

Step 6. Prioritise

Choices have to be made. This is not just a question of doing the most important ones first, technical and other practical reasons may dictate that certain projects must be completed before others can start.

Steps 7. Plan your supporting options

Plan for activities such as recruiting, training or redeploying staff, changing physical process, running a marketing campaign for a new website etc. Your overall plan has to take account of these.

Step 8. Set Times, budgets, responsibilities
Step 9. Actively manage the implementation of the strategy

Use recognised project management practices including making sure to
communicate with all those affected both inside and outside the company.

Step 10. Review the strategy periodically

Do not be afraid to change it if changing circumstances make this necessary.