Before you buy IT equipment or services for your business, it is important to establish your IT requirements.
These describe what you want to get from your investment, so you can be certain it’s a wise one.
A typical set of IT requirements for your business will describe what you want to do with your IT system. The requirements allow you to articulate the reasons for investing in new IT and give you a checklist to help make sure you end up with what you need.
The process of producing an IT requirements document in advance of any purchase forces you to think properly about what your priorities are – before you get distracted looking at specific products.
The information you include in your IT requirements depends on what you intend to purchase and how you plan to use your IT requirements (see below).
However, it’s very important that your IT requirements are focused on what you want to achieve with your IT, not on the technical specification of what you buy. Keep them as brief as you can and try to frame the requirements with reference to your business goals, drawn from your overall business plan.
For instance, it’s better to say: ‘our server should allow us to retrieve any customer information within five seconds,’ rather than saying: ‘our server should have at least 16GB of RAM and two quad-core processors.’
Here are some key items which you should include in your IT requirements:
When writing IT requirements for a substantial project, you should also consider additional uses for IT in your business. For instance, you might be able to automate tasks which are done manually at present.
It’s easy to get bogged down in technical details when writing your IT requirements, so think about how you want to use the document once it’s ready. For instance:
Seek input from everyone in your company who uses (or will be using) the relevant parts of your IT systems – but make sure one person is responsible for compiling the finished requirements document.
In addition to discussing your requirements with your IT suppliers, online forums are a great place to talk to like-minded small business owners about which kit works for them.