How to Create a Strategic Plan for IT: SWOT Analysis

Every business needs an IT strategy, but not all IT plans are created equal. In a recent study, out of nearly 1,800 executives surveyed, only 14% believe their digital strategy had been successful. This leaves us wondering — what can businesses do to avoid becoming part of this statistic? 

Luckily, there’s an answer, and it’s the SWOT analysis.  

The SWOT analysis 

The general principle behind the SWOT analysis is that it helps you understand the current state of your business, and how you can make it more profitable. In an IT context, this means understanding your IT situation and how you want it to improve. 

The SWOT analysis is based on four factors: 

  • Strengths (S)
  • Weaknesses (W)
  • Opportunities (O)
  • Threats (T)

To fully comprehend where your IT infrastructure is right now, and the direction you want to take it in, you should consider each of these factors in turn. So, how do you go about applying SWOT to your business? 


There’s something you can offer customers that your competitors aren’t supplying. This is your unique selling point or USP. Your IT strategy should directly support your strengths. Ask:

  • What’s great about your IT infrastructure?
  • How does it help you build your client base?
  • What you can do to ensure that your client base grows? 
  • How you can improve your existing IT to best support the direction you’re taking your business in?


Every business and every IT infrastructure has weaknesses. Your job is to identify and mitigate them. Consider:

  • How vulnerable you are to cyber attack?
  • Are you doing enough to protect sensitive and personal data?
  • How are you losing sales, and if there’s anything you can do to reverse this trend? For example, perhaps a seamless cloud-based platform will let you keep track of successful sales tactics so you can apply them easily to future transactions? 


Think about the gaps in the market and how you can fill them. Focus on how your IT strategy fits into this growth. Ask, for example:

  • What is your customer looking for?
  • Can you offer something that your competitors aren’t?
  • What to do to ensure your IT infrastructure supports your expansion plans?
  • Is it time to seek outside help, such as from a managed IT services provider?


You’ll want to understand the threats affecting your business. You should be asking:

  • Are you doing enough to keep up with your competitors?
  • Are there any new products or applications on the market which make your services obsolete, or less relevant? 
  • Are you keeping up with the latest cybersecurity threats affecting your business, and is there anything more you could be doing? 

Once you’ve compiled your SWOT analysis, you can devise an action plan for moving your business forward. Think about how to minimize your risk exposure while maximizing your opportunities. 

Finally, be sure to revise your SWOT analysis at regular intervals so that you have as complete an understanding of your company as possible.  


The bottom line is that at least 35% of IT strategies fail because the strategies are insufficient for a company’s digital needs. With the SWOT analysis, you can be sure that you’re covering all the right IT bases and planning for your company’s long-term success. To find out more about SWOT and IT strategies, contact us today. 

How to manage remote workers effectively

Using remote workers as a part of your business comes with plenty of advantages. In addition to reducing overheads, your employees may experience less stress, they won’t need to commute as far, and you can easily hire people around the world. At the same time, remote working requires employees to have a high degree of self-discipline. This means you need to know how to manage remote workers effectively.

Create an onboarding process

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that a remote worker doesn’t require any onboarding. However, failing to provide them with an induction in the same way that you would with office-based workers can result in a sense of apathy. Make sure your onboarding procedures include information about how your company does business, the team members they’ll be working with, and details about the software they use. Your onboarding processes should also include any documents pertaining to IT and NDA agreements.

Establish communications processes

If you and your remote working team are going to touch base with one another, you’ll need to establish communication processes. According to some statistics, around 50% of the United States workforce will soon work remotely. If remote working practices are going to run smoothly, communication and regular updates must become a priority. You may find that scheduling regular catchups using VoIP is mutually beneficial as other people can join in on the calls where needed. Make sure the communication processes you use extend beyond just yourself and the workers. Encourage them to communicate with each other as this generates a sense of loyalty.

Create a project management database

Always remain wary of micromanaging your remote workers. Although you want to know that they’re dedicating themselves to their projects throughout the day, constant calls, emails, and video conferences aren’t conducive to productivity. As an alternative, you may want to create a project management database with actionable tasks, details of who’s been allocated to them, and updates. When you and your project managers can see where progress is being made, it’s easier to promote productivity among your workforce while remaining assured they’re working efficiently.

Use time trackers where necessary

Although you don’t want to fall into the trap of micromanaging, it’s normal to want to make sure that your workers are doing their fair share while telecommuting. One way to oversee this is by using time trackers. Time trackers track the amount of time a remote worker spends on their tasks, before sending accurate reports back to you. They prove especially beneficial when your remote workforce operates on a billable hour basis rather than a fixed salary agreement. Employees may feel disinclined to dip into non-work-related tasks when time trackers are in use, which then makes them more productive.

Support your remote workforce in creating a productive environment

With remote working comes the temptation to slip away from productive environments. You should support your employees in making sure they’re in an efficient setting by establishing workplace ground rules. This may include keeping home offices free from distractions, not carrying out sensitive work using public WiFi, and not working late into the night in order to use morning hours for other activities. You should remain flexible to promote a sense of independence among your employees, but it’s okay to help them establish a sense of stability too. Also, keep security in mind. Research suggests that nomadic remote workers prefer using co-working spaces, so make sure your team is working from ones that are safe.

Using the right IT tools, you can create a remote worker environment that’s productive and useful. Always remember to prioritize communication with those who represent your business, and provide as much virtual support as you can without becoming overbearing.

How to know you’re getting your money’s worth for consulting services

It’s perfectly understandable that some business owners hesitate at the thought of retaining consultant services. They’re outsiders, not part of the company’s culture or history, and there remains the lingering question of whose interests take priority—theirs or yours.

The fact is, a consultant’s success depends upon your success. It is in their best interest to provide you with the very best advice and service possible. As for being outsiders—many times, an outside perspective may be just what your business needs—particularly if it’s stuck on a problem and not experiencing meaningful growth.

You may also find value in a certain IT consultant’s specialized knowledge. Their assistance could fill a temporary need or serve as a specialized resource for situations where outsourcing is more cost-effective than hiring new full-time employees.

But how do you know if you are getting your money’s worth?

The answer is in determining whether they are providing the useful services you need.

Project planning

Starting a new project—especially one intended to help grow a business—can be both an exciting and daunting process. But where to begin? Where to end? How to get from beginning to end in a manner that wastes neither time nor money?

You undoubtedly know best in setting and meeting goals for your business. But you probably don’t know how best to apply recent technology developments to reach those goals with a minimum of time and cost. Consulting services will bring you the expertise and experience in current IT trends and capabilities to guide you toward the plan that works best for your specific business needs.

From there, your consultant can help map out the best strategy to go from project launch to successful completion.

Project management and tech support

Once the scope and underlying strategy for a project are determined, how prepared is your business to follow through? Once your consultant makes technology recommendations, you may find it useful to have them assist in acquiring and installing your new technology to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Consulting services can also offer tech support—either in-house or remotely—to help keep downtime to an absolute minimum and manage software and security updates, freeing you to commit more time to developing your business.

Does your business have a disaster recovery plan to protect your data during your project? Consulting services can help you create a backup and disaster recovery plan (BDR) to help keep your business data available without loss or interruption.

Digital transformation  

For most businesses, growth is driven by how readily your business can adapt to changing technologies and customer needs. Even in 2019, there are still companies that rely too heavily on manual processes, incomplete data and obsolete technology.

An expert consultant can review your current technology capabilities and resources to determine how to keep your business working ahead of the curve.

Whether your team needs to digitize records, redesign the network, address cybersecurity concerns, or customize an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to centralize all communication and data, your consultants can guide you through modernizing your business and maintaining a competitive edge.

Business communications and remote access

How efficiently do your employees communicate? Does everything run through a single phone system or, at best, basic e-mail?

Consulting services with expertise in communications systems can review your business and determine the benefit of updating your traditional phone system. Migrating to a more flexible voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system can enable you to securely integrate office phones and mobile devices to support video conferencing, multichannel messaging, shared workspaces, and more.

Can your employees access your computer network remotely? The ability to access inventory, place orders, handle customer support, build customer databases, and conduct other business from anywhere can significantly increase your business efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Access and security may be challenging at first, but with an IT consultant guiding you or managing your system, your organization will gain improved and reliable communication options for your future.

Creating IT solutions

What other IT solutions might benefit your business?

The goal of every IT consultant is to help you and your business find the best technology strategies and solutions for your specific needs.

Reaching your goals can be challenging even for the strongest organizations. But with the help of technology consulting services, you can efficiently and thoughtfully navigate those challenges to maximize your consulting dollar and your results.

Shadow IT and the impact it can have on your business

Shadow IT is a term used to describe hardware, software, or cloud services used within your business that your IT department is not aware of. It could be a tablet brought from home that an employee is using to access work files, or it could be a personal Dropbox account your HR director set up to enable mobile access to files.

Shadow IT has some legitimate security concerns. But you needn’t stop your entire operation to ferret out any shadow IT your employees have adopted. Instead, you should use it as an opportunity to grow strategically. Start by asking a critical question: why are your employees turning to non-sanctioned IT tools in the first place?

When you use the experience to broaden your understanding of the challenges your people face, an encounter with shadow IT can actually provide some surprising and unexpected benefits.

Here are some of the ways shadow IT can impact your business.

Security risks from shadow IT

Hopefully, you already have a good cybersecurity plan in place, but you can’t protect something you don’t even know exists. Anytime unauthorized hardware or software is connected to your network, there are security risks that come along with it.

For example, hardware or software that is not properly updated with the most recent security patches could create an access point for viruses and other forms of malware to enter your network.

If you’re in an industry governed by compliance regulations and restrictions, shadow IT could lead to compliance risks or violations without even realizing it. Worse yet, it could lead to sanctions, fines, and loss of reputation.

What to do about shadow IT

The most important thing you need to do is to understand what shadow IT is and how to identify it. Consider working with a managed IT service provider to help you monitor your network. They can also provide network and risk assessments to help uncover issues that may not be readily apparent.

You should also make sure your employees understand the risks associated with shadow IT. There’s a good chance that employee working on a tablet they brought from home doesn’t realize that unsecured device could open up your network to cyber threats. Maybe they were just trying to find a way they could get work done from locations other than their desk, like the conference room or break room.

With the right training, your employees can be your first line of defense in protecting your network.

Consider implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, so your employees will be crystal clear on what is and is not allowed. Having a BYOD policy in place can also make sure everyone knows how to keep authorized personal devices updated and secure.

And don’t forget to include security awareness training. When your staff understands what it takes to protect company and customer data, they can be a powerful line of defense against data breach. But first, they have to be equipped with the right knowledge.

Learning from shadow IT

It’s also important to recognize that not all shadow IT is bad. In a lot of cases, this form of technology exists because your employees are searching for ways to work better and more efficiently.

That Dropbox account your HR director has been using to enable access to mobile files could demonstrate a need for cloud services you didn’t realize was there. Now that you know, you can find more secure and compliant ways to provide the same capability.

Shadow IT can provide great insight into end-user needs and preferences—provided you also understand the risks. You should absolutely stop shadow IT, but you should do so while also taking the time to understand the tools and solutions your employees actually need.

Final thoughts

Think of shadow IT as a gauge. If your staff is using shadow IT, it means they need a resource you’re not yet providing. So while it does present risks, it can also present you with an opportunity to improve workflows and streamline your business procedures, all while clearly communicating to your employees that you care about their on-the-job experience.

The key to dealing with shadow IT is to understand what it is and take proactive steps to identify it in your workplace. Contact your managed IT services provider to help secure your network today.

Leading ‘As-a-Service’ Trends in Technology

The advent of cloud computing brought with it more than just a place to store data, the cloud could be used for running, as well as building, applications and other software.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the most commonly used of the cloud services model. This is where a third party distributes software over the internet, making them available to everyone. This could be email, customer relationship management, and healthcare-related applications. 

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) – A software distribution model where a third-party hosts the application and delivers it to customers via the internet. SaaS is one of three main components of cloud computing. The other two are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

There are several important characteristics tied to the SaaS model. These are how they differ from the traditional software model and what make it ideal for some businesses versus the traditional way of doing things.

  • It’s a uniform platform for delivery. There is no need to pay extra operational overhead for software users to go through different distribution channels. It’s all done in one platform with a single avenue of distribution.
  • It has centralized hosting and delivery. No more different software packages for different operating systems or platforms. With SaaS, it functions on a single platform (the internet) with a uniform interface.
  • It allows for open collaboration and sharing. With SaaS, platform tools like automated user provisioning and self-service account management provides users with the necessary tools to control how and when they share things like tasks, data and information with other users either inside or outside their company.

It’s easy for companies to streamline their support with SaaS because vendors perform all the maintenance and upkeep: updates, runtime, servers, storage, data, etc. SaaS is one of three main components to cloud computing, along with Platform as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

  • HaaS (Hardware-as-a-Service) – A procurement (the series of activities and procedures necessary to acquire IT products and services) model similar to leasing or licensing. The hardware belongs to the managed service provider and is installed at a customer’s site, then a service level agreement is signed that fills out what both parties are responsible for.

The Hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) model can be a cost-effective way for a small or mid-sized business to provide employees with state-of-the-art hardware in a cost-effective manner. HaaS can be contrasted to infrastructure-as-a-service where the hardware is housed at co-location site.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is for running applications and providing cloud components to software. Basically, the customer is using the provided platform, such as Microsoft Azure, to use libraries, languages, services and other tools supported by the platform provider.

The same way that you would make macros in Microsoft Excel, PaaS allows you to create applications using software built into the PaaS. Applications that use PaaS will inherit cloud capabilities such as scalability, high-availability, SaaS enablement and more. It reduces the amount of coding needed, it automates business policy and it helps migrate apps to a hybrid model.

Some vendors of PaaS use open source platforms while others use more of a proprietary version. Open source might have the advantage of being portable, but a vendor specific version will probably have a better support model. Your business should take into account these versions before picking their PaaS. Portability is very important for organizations that seek flexibility to move between cloud platforms as their strategy evolves.

  • What are the benefits of PaaS?

One benefit is cost reduction; the other is that you can deliver web apps quickly without installing any tools or software.

  • What costs are associated with PaaS?

PaaS is usually billed using the same model as your utility bill, you pay for only what you use. It eliminates the need to install hardware or software that you don’t need.

  • What type of businesses can benefit from PaaS?

Development teams who want to speed their application’s time to market can benefit from PaaS; businesses looking to put their applications on a common architecture; and organizations who need critical support would also benefit from using PaaS. It reduces IT costs, complexity of operating systems and increases scalability.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a cloud infrastructure service that is a self-service model for accessing, monitoring and managing remote data centers such as compute, storage, networking and networking services such as firewalls. So instead of buying hardware outright, you pay for what you need as you go. It’s consumption based, much like your electricity is now.

Unlike PaaS and SaaS, IaaS users are responsible for managing data, runtime, apps and operating systems on it. The provider still manages core networking, hardware virtualization and storage architectures. Many providers now offer databases and other services. But the user is responsible for updating if there any updates.

Want to learn more about which cloud strategy is right for you? Contact our team at Imagis via our contact us page.

Strategize Your Way To A Stellar 2018

With the right guidance and advice, strategic IT planning can set your business on a path to greater success in 2018 and beyond.

2017 isn’t quite behind us yet, but already many businesses are turning their attention to the year ahead. Planning out your objectives and goals for the coming months is a great way to make sure your business is prepared to meet those challenges, and that starts with taking a look at how you faired in the previous months. Now is the time to make sure your plan for 2018 is ready to go, and covers all aspects of your business. This means focusing not just on your operations, but the many moving parts that keep your operations running.

Did your business meet all its goals and objectives for 2017? Hopefully, you were able to cross most, if not all, of your goals off of your list. But those areas where your business might have come up short, or the objectives you didn’t quite get around to tackling are a great starting point for your plans for 2018. And while it’s important to keep the big picture in perspective when making decisions that will have an impact on your future success, it’s just as important to focus your attention where it’s needed.

I’m talking, of course, about your business technology. Have you thought about technology and the role Information Technology can play in making sure your business continues to be successful? Information Technology plays an important role in every company’s success, regardless of how big or small your operations are, or what your company specializes in. Technology is the driving force behind just about everything a modern business does, from accounting and administration to shipping and manufacturing, and all things in between.

Having the right technology in place to improve, enhance, or completely change the way your staff works can make all difference, both short-term and long-term. And having the right IT strategy can help to make sure your business is in a position to accelerate growth, increase operational efficiencies, and ensure maximum productivity for all departments and employees. Strengthening your internal operations through innovative technology investments can be a game changer for your business.

Of course, it’s not just the things that happen behind the scenes that need to be a part of your planning. The right strategic IT plan can ensure your team is able to market your business to your ideal audience and help your sales teams to win new sales opportunities by staying a step ahead of your competitors. The agility and speed offered by today’s technology, when implemented correctly and used to your full advantage, allows your staff to do more for your clients and prospective clients and exceed expectations.

It’s just a matter of knowing where and how you want your business to grow in the coming year, what changes need to be made to make that growth happen, and how to get the most out of the technology at your disposal.

If your business doesn’t have a strategic IT plan ready to roll out just yet, now is the time to talk to trusted technology professionals about your goals and learn what your options are. Your business can and should use technology as a foundation to build up a framework for success in the coming year. Whether it’s something as small as upgrading your accounting software to help streamline payroll and billings, or something as huge as finally migrating your systems and servers to a cloud-based platform, planning is everything.

Don’t let that fact that the focus of this planning is on your goals for 2018 keep you from starting this conversation in 2017. Procrastination will only hold you back, and keep your business from benefitting fully from everything new technology can bring to the table. You don’t have to run out tomorrow and start making purchases, but the sooner you start planning, the sooner you can start putting that plan into motion.

You might have a very clear idea of the kinds of changes you want to see and the milestones you intend to strive for, and that’s great. That certainty will help guide your business. But if all you have is a vague idea of where you’d like to see your business end up when 2018 comes to an end, that’s where advice from an IT professional can make a big difference. Just knowing what services and solutions are available for your business to choose from can help guide you onto the right path. It’s just a matter of knowing which questions to ask.

Better yet, engage an IT Service Provider that knows which questions need to be asked to help your business leverage technology into massive growth and success in 2018 and beyond.

Ready to start on a strategic IT plan for 2018? Contact Imagis Innovations at or 866.462.4474 today to book a consultation with a strategic IT advisor. We’re the technology experts growing businesses trust.