Accounting Today’s 2012 Technology Outlook survey of CPA firms found that “Despite the interest in and need for improved information technology, particularly when it comes to data security, many CPA firms continue to lack any formal IT planning.”
In addition, the report states, “A surprisingly large number of survey takers – almost a third – noted that 10 percent or more of their firm’s overall budget does go towards IT expenditures, with data security, portals, and document management highest on their list of considerations for system and software spending in 2012.”
These findings commanded our attention for a number of reasons. First, formal IT planning is a service that we provide for clients in all kinds of professional services firms (not just CPAs) and data security (the top priority for AICPA survey respondents) is practically a religion among the government contractors who represent a high percentage of those clients.
Secondly, as business people, we believe that if you are spending 10 percent of your total budget on IT, it is likely that a good part of it is potentially wasted if you don’t have a formal plan. That is because your largest IT investment is in your infrastructure–not just the devices and software and communications that you buy but the way they interact to give you the business results you need.
Your existing infrastructure has tremendous inertia because of the investments you have already made and because the technology in place constrains your future technology options. The main virtue of formal IT planning is that it gives you the flexibility to evolve your systems over time with minimal expense. Without it, when the time comes to change directions, it is like trying to turn an ocean liner.
The change driver may be either an opportunity or a threat–or possibly both. Take the iPad for example. It confers mobility advantages that are self-evident, but what if an employee loses a device? Is the data it contains now accessible to any finder? Is the data it contains backed up somewhere on a server under your control? That depends on whether it is integrated into your infrastructure, and how.
Many small to mid-sized businesses lack the staff or expertise to do formal IT planning, but that is not a good reason to do without it. Available as a service, IT planning can help you optimize the relationship between your business plan and your IT expenditures, help you get the greatest ROI out of your existing infrastructure as well as intended purchases, and steer you away from dead-ends.
If you are interested in finding out more about Brittenford’s IT planning services, call us at 703-860-6945 to schedule a free initial consult.