According to the fourth quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, 62 percent of executives plan to move forward with business expansion in 2017. These plans reflect increased optimism about the U.S. economy, which increased from 38 percent in the third quarter to 62 percent in the fourth quarter. Organizational optimism increased from 53 percent to 61 percent, and profit expectations jumped from 2.3 percent to 3.2 percent.

Unfortunately, many businesses get so excited by the prospect of making more money that they don’t adequately plan for the changes that business expansion will bring. They just try to sell more and do more without having the people, processes or technology in place to support more sales and additional services. Expansion that is not carefully managed creates serious risks. It can strain staff, weaken an organization’s financial position, and leave customers unsatisfied. In a worst-case scenario, an organization can expand itself right out of business.

The right technology is critical to business expansion. Expansion planning should account for growth for the next five years, which means you’ll probably need to expand and upgrade your network architecture. Consumer-grade switches and routers won’t cut it. Assess your existing hardware, software and applications, and look for ways to improve performance, minimize downtime and maximize efficiency. Make sure your wireless network can support higher user and device density without performance degradation.

The more you expand, the more important communication and collaboration become. You’ll need to interact with more employees, more customers and more vendors, regardless of their location, device and preferred communication channel. Make it a priority to deploy a unified communications (UC) platform that brings together all communication and collaboration channels – voice, video, email, text, chat, etc. – into the same interface. ShoreTel Connect is a UC solution that can be deployed as an on-premises or cloud-based solution and delivers a consistent user experience across all locations.

Consider the use of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) to enable mobile workers and branch offices to remotely connect to the network. SD-WAN makes it possible to centrally monitor and control traffic routing from remote locations. Instead of programming individual devices at multiple locations, network resources are pooled and automatically allocated so traffic can be dynamically routed according to predefined policies. These capabilities can reduce management costs while improving business agility and flexibility.

If your technology isn’t working well today, the problems will only get worse when you expand. If IT spends more time on routine, day-to-day tasks and putting out fires than strategic business initiatives, they’ll become more overwhelmed when you expand. Again, it’s not just about the technology. You need a comprehensive strategy that addresses technology, people and process in a way that supports business expansion.

IPC can help you plan for business expansion and execute your plan. Our managed services solution allows you to keep your IT infrastructure running at peak performance and efficiency, and your business operating at peak productivity, without hiring additional IT staff. If you feel your organization is ready to take the next step, let IPC make sure you have the technology and strategy in to support sustained growth with minimal risk.