Tips for Optimizing Digital Transformation and Innovation Budget
Every business leader remembers the moment during the crisis where the unshakable realization came to them, “This is real, this is happening, and we have to take steps to prepare for it.” For many of us that realization came late, others had the foresight to batten the hatches before the curl fell with the first wave. Forcing your organization to go on the defensive wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one.
But surely, even during a time when our concerns have to be directed towards our employees’ welfare, there must still be opportunities to expand, right? There must be some glimmering diamond in the rubble that, if we have nothing more than the honed perception required, could mean a massive growth potential for your company?
Maybe. But probably not. And even if there is, the risk you’re taking in seizing it may be too costly to handle.
Upward growth needs to be shelved for now. Expansion should be boxed and placed in storage till the time is right. For the moment, and until this wave and all the other waves that will come after it wash over us, businesses must be focused on survival, not growth. Thankfully, pursuing digital innovation is at many times critical for survival.
“Survival, not growth, will be the priority for executives in 2020. Survival will depend on maintaining cash flows and income while continuing to be innovative with technology. Enterprises that fail to act may not survive this disruption or will have their subsequent recovery delayed,” said Chris Ganlyy, senior research director at Gartner.
Rather than planning for the short-term, you could think about this period as a marathon, and the careful prep you undertake in the early parts of the race will be critical in determining the outcome. Ensuring your survival doesn’t have to mean you’re standing in the same place, doing nothing but maintaining the status quo. Be innovative and take the steps that will give you a huge head start once the crisis has passed.
According to a study by IDG, 40% of IT leaders say their IT budgets will hold steady. Only 25% say their budgets will still increase in the next year, down from 56% who believed so in September. 35% of IT leaders say their IT budgets will now decrease in the next year compared to the past 12 months, as a result of the COVID-19 disruption. With no clear timeline for a return “normal” business, 45% of IT leaders say they’ll focus long term on cost control and expense management. These are our top tips for optimizing digital innovation spend:
- Focus on keeping the lights on first.
- Pause non-essential spending.
- Reshape IT priorities.
- Innovate, smartly.
- Partner with the right vendor.
1. Focus On Keeping the Lights on First
Optimization, transformation, and reorganization can come later, you’ve got more pressing matters to attend to on your plate right now. Pour your efforts into ensuring that you’ll still have a business to come back to. Balance your books, ensure your employees are cared for, and most importantly of all: keep the lights on .
Not literally, obviously, just make sure you aren’t bankrupt.
2. Pause Non-Essential Spending
This task falls squarely on the shoulders of the CIOs and CTOs. During normal operating hours, there’s probably a whole list of extra expenses that get marked off as important resources to maintain. The key difference here is whether or not you can guarantee those expenditures are essential. For instance, a computer is critical to your work, making it essential. A coffee machine in the office, while not essential, is oftentimes important to make the workspace more comfortable.
It’s time to grit your teeth and answer the nitty gritty: will your business survive without this commodity, or will it crumble like a bridge made out of balsa wood? You may find there are certain things you’re loath to strike from the budget. Yeah, it sucks. What sucks more is losing your business to unnecessary spending.
You must determine what aspects of your current expenditures are not as critical and should be postponed, altered, or even eliminated. You won’t have to throw everything in the garbage, but expect more than a few changes to come from this.
3. Reshape IT Priorities
Let’s start off by assuming that your remote workforce will become a larger percent after all this passes. We’ve been given a global hands-on demonstration on the feasibility and practicality that working remotely provides, to abandon that resource and knowledge once we’re in the free in clear doesn’t make sense. How will that impact your company, business goals, assets, and infrastructure?
One way or another, this crisis will mold a different vision of the upcoming years than we could have imaging before 2020 took off. How will you adapt in the realization of that new mold? Start redefining what business processes will look like going forward, taking into account the new future of work.
Remote work has proven to be highly effective, economic, and considerate. When we’re allowed to come back to the office, do we really need that many people taking up space there? The reliance on a central hub of organized work is a runoff of a bygone era. Office space is important, yes, but not nearly as critical as it used to be. Do we need to shift our priorities?
4. Innovate, Smartly
You have to keep innovating while aligning IT to business goals. Blind innovation in any random direction has diminishing returns. As a process, innovation must follow growth and business goals to support the entire company moving forward. Focusing on business outcomes leaves less room for doubts and lessens the risk that investments will flow to non-urgent matters.
We recommend using a framework to evaluate all innovation projects across a range of key factors, such as the impact on a business, risk, and the amount of investment required. Here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Business impact
- Level of investment required
- Risks, both organizational and technical
- Potential financial benefit
- Time requirement: you need to be realistic about how long it will take the business to realize the value and cost optimization of the innovation project.
5. Partner With the Right Vendor
Identify your digital transformation initiatives that are critical to the business and therefore cannot be stopped. These are the base standards that you’ll measure up your potential vendors with. Every vendor offers something unique and competent, but not every vendor will offer you what you precisely need to get this digital transformation project off the ground.
This will require more than a little research and some in-depth conversations to properly sort the wheat from the chaff in the vendor ring. Once you’re able to, partner with the right vendor that has the right talent for you to pivot right now, and must be able to meet your needs and grow alongside you. Return to a framework to evaluate all vendors and cost proposals. Proper organization puts large-scale decisions in perspective. Go for the one that ensures a secure development and is willing to go on board with you for the long run.
The phrase “survival of the fittest” has always been a load of bull. Those who strike out to take on the wilderness and actively destroy anyone near them will surely die themselves in due time. We are not meant to be solo survivors, trekking out into the wild green yonder with nothing but a backpack and determination. We survive together.
Survival in terms of your business means taking care of what’s you and yours, and it’s best done as a team. In this time, you need to ensure you stick together and ride out this recessed business period for as long as it may last, like hibernation in a sense. In the meantime, you need to take every step necessary for waking up at the end of the long rest.
We wanted to provide you with the baseline tips needed to start preparing properly. The five tips we left for you include:
- Focus on keeping the lights on first
- Pause non-essential spending
- Reshape IT priorities
- Innovate, smartly
- Partner with the right vendor
While you don’t have to treat these guidelines like a bible, integrating them into your current operations schedule isn’t a half bad idea. Changes like these take effort, but anything that’s worth doing comes at a cost, whether it be time, sweat, or sheer currency. Hopefully everything will make a turn in the coming months, but it’s safer to bet on preparing for the worst rather than hoping for the ideal and being unready for the storm blowing in.
iTexico is there to offer you whatever help you need. We specialize in revamping the current software development business makeup, prioritizing nearshore outsourcing and establishing remote work infrastructure and organization. Things are much different now, and we have the skill set to help you adapt to it properly. If you’re interested in what iTexico can do for you, feel free to visit our contact page and arrange a meeting to learn more.