One of the hardest departments to manage, as an executive in a small or mid-size organization, is IT. Unfortunately, many organizations are unable or unwilling to invest in an entire IT department. For them, IT is simply an afterthought and necessary cost of doing business; something that can be set aside and looked at only when necessary.
For the astute organization, however, IT provides an enormous advantage. Take two companies for example, both with identical operations, marketing, clients, and employees. One focuses on IT, and the other treats it as a necessary task. The company with the focus on IT is going to outperform the other company in a huge way in every single major metric.
If you want to turn your IT into a competitive advantage, one useful technique is developing a 7C strategy canvas
. The 7C IT competitiveness canvas is a measurable and actionable blueprint of an organization’s IT management practices. It is designed to help C-level management of small/midsized organizations create alignment between IT and real business needs.
Below, you’ll find the various building blocks of an effective 7C competitiveness canvas model. These blocks measure your organizations ability to be:
This metric takes a look at how secure and protected your equipment and data is. Does your company have acceptable virus and firewall protection? Do your employees know the best practices on data security? What steps are you taking to make sure your data is safe even when disaster strikes? Do you have any business continuity or disaster recovery processes in place?
The better your IT supports your risk management, the more confident you can be.
Competency measures how effective your actual IT infrastructure and equipment are. Do your systems have an inordinate amount of downtime, or are they up and running when you need them? How easy is it to manage your systems and your mobile workforce? Are you able to sniff out problems out before they occur, or is your management purely reactive?
The more effective your infrastructure is, the less time and money you’ll have to spend managing it.
Charge is all about how proactive and responsive your IT is. Does everything run quickly enough so that it doesn’t hinder productivity? Are your systems and applications reasonably easy to use? How quickly are you able to receive help if you need it?
The more in charge you are of your IT protocols, the more efficiently your staff will be able to work.
Having the best IT equipment in the world isn’t an advantage if it costs your business too much money. Do you pay for functionality that you don’t use very often or at all? Are your major IT investments made when something breaks, or do you make them strategically? Could you balance your IT budget towards more value-added applications and services?
Clearly, a cost-effective IT solution is the goal of every business, no matter their size.
A controlled IT environment is all about the measurables. Just like any other endeavor, you need to market success. Do you have the necessary metrics in place to make sure your IT solutions are providing enough value? Does your company have the ability to audit your IT capabilities to make sure everything is running efficiently and effectively?
An organization must have a set of strategic best practices in place to control your IT environment. Without them, it’s extremely difficult to enjoy an edge.
A valuable IT ecosystem must also be clear. Your organization needs to know exactly who’s accountable for managing and measuring all elements of your IT network, well beyond just the systems. Who is in charge of your vendor management? Your IT strategy? Who has control of reporting?
The clearer and more transparent your IT ecosystem is, the better equipped your organization will be to leverage it.
The most important thing to remember is that your IT decisions need to be conscious, made with a strategic purpose. To achieve this, strategic and operation planning are vital. Does your IT enable your employees to do their best job possible? What company initiatives are you about to undertake that could be assisted by IT? What could you invest in to solidify your strengths or improve your weaknesses?
If you’re able to strategically integrate your IT, you’ll be able to uncover an incredible variety of competitive advantages.
If your company needs help developing your IT canvas model or turning its various pieces into a competitive advantage, make sure to reach out to us: Envision Consulting. We’ll be able to work alongside you to help build, maintain and support solutions that align with your strategic business objectives. In the end, your IT will be transformed from a sunk cost to a legitimate competitive edge.