In a previous post, we discussed the top business issues, IT priorities and challenges in the coming year for small to midsize businesses (SMBs), according to a recent report from Techaisle. The top IT priorities are cloud computing, collaboration, mobility, security for cloud and mobile, and digitization. We’ve also discussed data analytics, enterprise resource planning systems, and hyper-converged infrastructure.

Clearly, there are quite a few IT solutions that can help your business in a number of different ways. But how do you determine which IT solutions make sense for your business? How should you prioritize your IT investments? And how do you go about evaluating IT solutions?

Most SMBs don’t have the budget to go on an IT spending spree. Even if they did, money and technology don’t always add up to ironclad business solutions. There are certainly pros and cons to investing in IT that are specific to smaller organizations. On the positive side, business processes are relatively easy to re-engineer when new technology is deployed. There also tends to be minimal legacy IT infrastructure to integrate with, and benefits from newer technology are often realized more quickly.

Most of the cons are cost-related. It can be difficult for smaller companies to justify IT investments for a small number of users, and capital expenses for technology are often dependent on that technology’s ability to cut costs. Due to limited budgets and an overall lack of strategic planning, SMBs tend to take a piecemeal approach to IT investments, which creates a complex IT environment that’s difficult to manage and scale.

While cost reduction is a compelling reason to invest in new IT solutions, it should not be the primary driver in the decision-making process. Organizations should focus on boosting productivity, enhancing the customer experience, and improving operational efficiency by using technology to optimize business processes and service delivery. These days, IT investments are less about products and more about the processes they enable. By aligning IT solutions with innovative business processes that are implemented consistently across the organization, you can create competitive advantages and maximize ROI from technology investments.

The first step to choosing the right IT solution is to identify and document specific business goals that you want to achieve with the help of technology. List these goals in order of importance. Next, document the system requirements to ensure alignment with business goals. What features and functionality do users need, and how will these capabilities enable users to do their jobs better? Finally, develop a list of potential solutions that address your requirements.

This process may sound simple enough, but it can be overwhelming for a small organization with little or no in-house IT staff. That’s why companies can benefit from working with a managed service provider (MSP). An MSP can help you assess existing IT infrastructure, identify business needs and objectives, determine what kinds of IT solutions will help you meet those needs and objectives, and evaluate solutions from various vendors. An MSP can also assist with the implementation of new IT solutions to minimize risk, prepare employees for change, and accelerate time to value.

New technology alone does not solve all business problems. Smart technology investments, approached strategically to align with business processes and goals, are much more likely to support long-term growth and success. SSD’s engineer consultants can sit down with your management team and key stakeholders to develop an IT roadmap and budget that prioritizes your technology investments based upon your business objectives.