What could you accomplish if you had an additional 1 percent of revenue in your firm’s IT budget? The answers will be unique to each firm, but I can think of a few places many should consider.
Pay Off Technical Debt
Technical debt happens when firms choose to save money in the short term, but increase complexity and costs in the long term. Some examples include supporting several versions of desktop accounting software rather than transitioning all clients to a cloud-based solution or using servers or desktop computers that are no longer on support contracts or even skipping the regular refresh cycle to preserve cash.
Taking on technical debt isn’t always a bad decision, but it can hinder a firm’s ability to grow because it has to pay off the debt before being truly innovative. A 1 percent increase in the IT budget could go a long way towards fixing what’s broken or what has been put off being addressed for too long for many firms.
Prepare to Scale
If you want to grow your firm efficiently, you need to take a strategic approach to scaling. Simply trying to hire more people isn’t effective, and it can actually slow you down.
To scale effectively, you need to track performance metrics across the firm to determine how to optimize your operations best. Without these metrics, it’s tough to get a good handle on your firm’s health, which requires understanding the impact of each service the firm offers and how technology and other resources are being used to improve productivity.
Investing in the integration of financial, talent and client data allows firm leaders to see the big picture and also zoom in on certain areas when needed. Disparate systems limit the type of data your firm can analyze to increase efficiency and improve performance, both of which are crucial for scaling and growth.
Upgrade Your Team’s Quality of Life
Technology plays a huge part in how employees feel about their jobs and whether they’re engaged with the firm. This includes everything from the hardware on their desks to the video conferencing tools and other software they interact with every day.
Last year, many people used whatever equipment was available to get up and running as quickly as possible from a home office. If you haven’t already, it’s time to replace any makeshift set-ups with higher-quality equipment.
For example, if some staff still use old travel monitors, upgrade them to a 34-inch curved display. Or replace paper routing sheets and engagement-tracking spreadsheets with an automated workflow solution. These changes can have a big impact on how employees experience their everyday work, and may even influence their decisions on how long they will want to stay with your firm.
Look for Competitive Advantages
Emerging technologies, data analytics and blockchain are increasingly accessible to firms of all sizes. If you haven’t yet invested in these technologies, consider allocating some of your increased IT budget here. Many of these technologies can have the dual purpose of creating value for your firm internally as well as being highly sought after new service offerings that your clients will appreciate.
Invest in Innovation
Innovation isn’t something that just happens magically when someone comes up with a new idea. Sustainable innovation is a process and methodology that firms need to look at as an opportunity for long-term investment. Assigning an innovation leader, dedicating resources to an innovation action committee, and developing a firm-wide culture of innovation are excellent first steps in preparing your firm to adapt for success in our rapidly changing world.
These technologies can help your firm internally and become a service you offer your clients down the road. IT is the backbone of your firm, and the need to invest in technology to increase and protect your firm’s value is not slowing down.
The economy has picked up, and spending on office space is down. Take this opportunity to bolster your IT budget now while you have the resources and put your firm on the path toward greater engagement, future readiness and growth.
The original article appeared on the Boomer Consulting website.