Cyber attacks? Data management? Payment gateways? Employee digital training? Help!
Small business owners can have a very hard time getting started. After all, they do not have the kind of resources big corporates do – only an idea and the grit to succeed. A key area that such businesses have to conquer is that of the digital sphere – and for this, IT governance is essential.
But what is that?
Defining IT Governance and IT Governance Strategy
All companies have a set of rules, regulations and procedures that are used to control its operations. These are known as corporate governance. IT governance is thus a subset of cooperate governance, one that focuses on optimizing performance and risk-management in the digital sphere.
In other words, it refers to the effective use of IT resources to enable a company to achieve its goals.
As you can imagine, IT governance is of central concern to businesses today, especially when so much of economic activity happens using IT setups. Unfortunately, small businesses often skip this step, relying on an ad-hoc approach or a few people who have basic training in information technology to keep the boat running.
While this may be useful in the initial phase, it will only hamper productivity in the long run. After all, expansion and profit can only come when the company expands, and this in turn will only happen if you are able to use all your resources, including information technology, effectively.
Yes, But How to form your IT Governance Strategy?
Of course, it can be very intimidating to step into something as formal and technical as IT governance, especially when you have a hundred other things to do as a small business owner.
However, there is no reason why you can’t do it like the corporates do and engage in effective IT governance. Here are some top tips to help you get started.
Hire an Expert
By far the best thing that you can do for your small business is to employ something who is well versed in the realm of IT. It might be a costly affair, but it will certainly pay off in the long run.
An IT expert can help you integrate the various aspects of your digital life, create protections against possible threats, and streamline work by digitizing the tough works such as data management.
Before you set out to hire an expert, be sure you check out your local public and private resources. Many aid small businesses by providing them with free services, and you may be able to find somebody to help you get started on IT governance without shelling out big bucks.
Be Aware of the Law
As you work with an expert or forge a plan on your own, there is one very important thing you should keep in mind – the law, of course.
Most countries today have certain rules and regulations around privacy, data use and management, transaction limits and cyber protocols, and non-compliance to this could open up your business to liability in case anything goes wrong.
Again, there can be many free and nominal legal resources that can help you decode the language of these acts and rules and help you comply with them. You can also reach out to fellow business owners and understand how they have complied with the various laws.
Standards Are Your Friends
Developing governance policies can be hard – which is why many premier institutions and platforms lend you a helping hand through standards. These standards are basically the ideal scenario or best practices that one should follow in given circumstances.
Thus, they can provide you clear cut goals, as well as what you need to do to get there.
What standards or practices that you choose for your company depends upon several factors, including your goals, work culture, and size. Again, an analysis of what has been working for successful competitors can be a great start.
Even if you have an expert on board, everybody and all departments need to participate in the creation of IT governance rules and strategies. The reasoning for this is simple – these are the very people who are expected to use these rules and requirements in day to day life.
If they are not involved, it would lead to several problems, such as interruption of work or difficulty in application of the rules.
At the end of the day, governance strategies are aimed at two major objectives – risk management and work optimization. These two are often competing, but a balance can be created between them. This can happen when people talk about their work needs, which an expert can then evaluate and put safety nets around accordingly.
Prepare for the Absolute Worst
Do not remain under the misassumption that the bad guys only target the big corporations. If you have data and money, no matter how little, you are a target. IT governance helps you prepare for the worst case scenario, so don’t assume that any situation is off the table.
Prepping for farfetched cases like cyberattacks, loss of physical data, and other such problems can help you keep your business in a much more solid and secure shape, so do not hesitate in adding IT governance strategies around the same when you work.
What are the other strategies you would suggest to a small business owner? Do you think IT governance is essential for small businesses, or should they be focusing on other things? Let us know in the comments below!