IT Strategic Planning Guide
Businesses used to avoid IT strategic planning and keep IT pretty simple. If someone needed a new computer or piece of software, the company would simply buy it. As time progressed, this reactive approach to IT left companies with a patchwork of devices and systems that were hard to maintain, secure, and upgrade.
IT became a burden that only became more difficult to manage as businesses rely more on digital technology to operate, and new technologies added layers of complexity on top of legacy systems. As this problem spiraled out of control, the idea of the IT strategic plan became commonplace.
The core goal of an IT strategic plan is to ensure that its systems and software support the business in achieving its objectives in the most effective possible way.
An IT environment that is outdated, bloated, and plagued by disconnected systems is not serving the company’s mission.
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What is a Strategic IT Plan?
An IT strategic plan is a set of guiding principles that cover the strategic digital transformation goals of the business and its information technology team, the strategies that will help achieve these goals, and the tactics used to work towards them.
Plans are often split into multiple strategies to meet a few high-level objectives. These strategic objectives could include things like:
- Improving the customer’s digital experience
- Reducing IT support response times
- Supporting global business expansion
- Reducing the IT footprint and costs
- Aligning internal and external teams
- Automating time-consuming business processes
There are many potential benefits that can come from developing an IT strategic plan, such as increasing the efficiency of your day-to-day operations, improving business agility and flexibility, boosting collaboration between staff, and enhancing interactions with customers.
What Should IT Strategic Planning Do?
1. Strategic Planning for IT Should Support Business Goals
Creating an IT strategic plan is the best way to more closely align the IT department with teams that are more focused on the core business (rather than just rattle off a list of technologies that would be “nice to have”).
This makes IT a more integral part of the overall company mission, rather than just a cost center where the staff goes when they need a new computer or the printer is broken.
2. Long-Term Strategies are the Best Way Forward
There is not much point in creating an IT strategy if it only focuses on the upcoming year. An effective operating plan will think at least five years into the future, giving you enough of a timeline to make meaningful and lasting changes to your IT environment.
For example, if you are pivoting your business offering to mobile-first, it will take time to make that happen.
3. IT Strategy and Planning Are Incomplete Without a Technology Roadmap
Even though the IT strategic plan is not about technology brand names and models, at some point, you will have to cover the nitty-gritty of what will be included in your environment.
Creating a technology roadmap will give you a plan outline for building the infrastructure and enhancing it over time as new products are released, and existing systems are improved.
4. Developing Best Practices Should Be Part of Your IT Strategic Planning Process
All good IT strategies take from tried-and-tested practices, such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). By using IT best practices, you will have the best chance of plugging gaps and creating a plan that serves the business's strategic goals.
Learning these practices can take time, but it’s worth it.
5. Include a Communication Plan in Your IT Strategy Planning
Strategic initiatives will likely fall flat if the plan is not adequately communicated across the business. Your staff will need to know why changes are being made and how they will affect them.
Often changes to IT require staff to be trained on new processes and systems. It will also be useful for them to know how the changes will affect the direction of the business and how it interacts with customers.
6. Track ROI to Assess IT Strategy Planning Effectiveness
One of the most important aspects of an IT strategy is tracking whether or not it is going according to plan. You need to have a system in place that helps you measure the success of your actions, as this will inform any adjustments that are needed and allow you to understand and report back on the return on investment in new systems and tools.
Identify key performance indicators and cost metrics early on in the process for a clearer “before and after” picture.
Don’t Let IT Strategy Planning Take the Backseat
Creating a robust and effective IT strategic plan can be a challenging task because you are required to properly understand the wider business goals and how the complex world of IT can best support them.
You should expect the plan to take some time to complete, likely going through numerous drafts while gathering feedback from the management team, researching technologies, and considering costs.
Some organizations have what it takes to put together an effective IT strategy. Still, many lack the project management knowledge and resources to get it right (and make the investments required).
Most companies these days find that enlisting the help of a third-party service provider is the most cost-effective and impactful way to create an IT strategy.
CalTech has more than 30 years of experience helping businesses with strategic planning for IT that propel companies to the next stage of growth and efficiency.
Get in touch with us today to learn how to move forward with an IT strategic plan that perfectly suits your business needs.