5 Key Steps To Planning Your IT Strategy
The 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report survey of more than 2500 business leaders identified several key priorities for 2017:
- Expansion of digital platforms for businesses and organizations of all sizes;
- Development of technical infrastructures to support the expansion of the digital “ecosystem”, through cloud and mobility applications, voice and data communications networks, and more.
- Building and utilizing a strong bench of IT talent to support and expand on the above priorities. In fact, CIO’s across the board identify lack of skills as their number one barrier to success. Innovative thinking is key to business growth within these platforms.
Taking advantage of new technology and getting the most from existing IT investments isn’t easy. Without a trusted IT partner, (either in-house or outside support) you might not have a solid IT plan-or strategy-in place at all.
Whether you’re new to the process or a seasoned IT manager, knowing just where to start when you plan an IT strategy can be difficult. Here are a few simple steps you can use to plan an IT strategy.
- Outline your business goals and high-priority objectives. The primary function of your IT strategy is to support your organizational or business needs, so start by outlining your business needs, goals and objectives. If you don’t already have an outlined business strategy in place, you can clarify your mission and needs by considering your sales targets, expansion plans and any other ongoing “action” plans you may have in the pipeline. Don’t skip this step; it’s importance cannot be overstated. Remember, the most successful organizations align their IT strategy with their business strategy.
- Define the scope, personnel and schedule to make your plan happen. Remember, a list of goals is not a strategy. It’s important that everyone is clear about the purpose of your IT planning, who is responsible for delivering it and to whom it applies. Your IT strategy shouldn’t (and can’t) solve all your problems at once, so even if your strategy is company-wide you need to articulate how it affects different business units and functions. Meet with key people within your organization who will be able to tell you how they are using technology resources, what they are lacking and how IT can support them. It’s also important to build a schedule-or “lifespan”-into the strategy, giving you an opportunity to review and refine the plan regularly and make changes as needed.
- Review your existing IT systems and tactics. When you plan an IT strategy it’s important to remember that you’re not starting from scratch. Reviewing your existing IT systems and tactics will help you define problems, see what’s working and where resources can best be saved by making use of what is already available. As you start thinking about your IT, ask yourself: How is your team using technology? What tools, software or systems do they use? Your answers should be in the information you’ve collected from various teams and units within your business. What’s working? What isn’t? Think critically about how IT is being used and analyze which tools, software and systems are providing the most value. This step will enable you to plan an IT strategy based on resources you already have. You’ll identify opportunities to save money and time that you would otherwise spend on implementing an entirely new infrastructure or by switching IT providers.
- Create a roadmap for your technology systems and resource allocation. This might seem like the most difficult step, but if you’ve been following the process, this should be relatively simple. Start by defining an overview of your technology systems (the software applications, hardware and other IT tools you will be using). Then consider any departmental-specific technology needs within your organization, like financial or HR software. Finally, think about how the parts in your tech systems fit together, and what processes are needed to integrate them within the organization.
- Define your metrics. Since your IT strategy is supporting your business needs, you need to make sure that it is functional and cost effective. This is why it’s important to identify some key metrics and KPIs that you can use to benchmark and analyze the performance of your IT strategy over time. These might include number of help desk calls, operational indicators (like ISP capacity) and budget, customer and end-user measurements.
When done right, an IT strategy can be a powerful tool to drive growth and efficiency in your business, supporting your goals and your staff directly. These five steps will help you build the right strategy for your organization.
To get started building your IT roadmap, download our workbook to find out about the technology systems you need to have in place now.