IT Strategic Planning

What Is IT Strategic Planning?

IT planning is the process of aligning IT’s objectives and strategic goals to your current IT infrastructure and financial outlook. It could also include your industry, future needs, HR capabilities, and the transition roadmap for IT and its performance.

This plan generally requires senior IT personnel and business management input. All-in-all it will take several months to organize and complete. A robust plan will reflect how technology shapes your organization’s business strategy.

What’s more, it should reflect business projects, including the requirements of primary stakeholders such as customers, business partners, and employees.

How to Develop an IT Strategic Plan

Technology is a big part of every firm’s daily activities. Making the best use of it and managing this investment are critical. Many businesses are at a loss to put an IT plan or strategy together, so it's important to look at a few of the primary components.

Establish Business Goals Framework

One of the essential IT planning steps is to ensure that it aligns with your business goals, strategy, and requirements. To better organize your plan, it is critical to begin by reviewing your sales pipeline and targets, plans for growth, future plans for acquisitions, partnerships, or mergers.

A successful business ensures its IT strategy complements the broader business strategies.

Collect Operations and Executive Team Input

Another critical step is to meet with specific teams. This will help you to deduce commonalities and analyze possible directions and trends. When setting up the framework for your strategic planning, these resources will aid in collecting the information you need.

Many tools combined create the data set you need. These include questionnaires and surveys, discussions and interviews with individual team members, resident groups, the board of directors’ interviews, and various departments.

Clarify Scope and Schedule

Communicating the purpose and importance of your IT strategy is critical. It is also essential to ensure everyone in your organization knows it and how it will impact each department and its functions.

Another critical point to define is the lifespan of your IT strategy. While many IT strategic plans are long-term, you should consider including periodic reviews. These will allow you to redefine parts of your strategy over time.

Clarify and define primary phases such as integration, review, implementation, and others. These will let you know how it will impact each department and its critical functions when the IT strategic plan will be active and when the team should revise it.

Review Existing Systems

What problems exist in your current infrastructure? Reviewing what you have lets you define problem areas. As you are considering developing your IT Strategy, consider your teams and departments using technology.

Find out which systems and tools they are using, if the technology is working, and which ones aren’t. You’ll be able to develop an IT strategy based on your current resources by thinking critically about the infrastructure you have now.

It will let you save money that you might spend on unnecessary upgrades or changing to a new managed services provider.

Develop Resource and Architecture Allocation

In this phase, you will define your technology systems. Look at the resources you use, both such as your major hardware and software or other IT tools.

Another thing to weigh into your strategy is department-specific types of technology. These will help you to tie all the parts of your company’s architecture together.

Define Metrics

It’s critical to ensure your IT Strategy is functional and cost-effective when putting it together. Identifying and defining primary KPIs will aid you in benchmarking. They will also assist you in analyzing your company’s performance over time.

If you’re not sure what metrics are essential, include a few resources. Some of these include the number of help desk calls, customer satisfaction, budget, end-user and customer feedback, and capacity use.

IT Strategic Planning & Budgeting

IT planning and budgeting are both essential and set the stage for your long-term success. Understanding how these two work together and differ from each other is important. Budgeting & planning should happen concurrently in order to be most effective.

IT Budgeting can be a painful process, but the worst-case situation is a plan without a budget, yielding a glorified wish list that specifies every possible IT project with the expectation much of it will be rejected, trimmed, or reduced. Primary tasks that can keep your budget focused and targeted include:

  • Understanding the current IT spend
  • Aligning every dollar of spend to a strategic objective
  • Identifying opportunities for savings
  • Allocating the budget collaboratively with stakeholders

A well-planned IT strategy should naturally lead into your IT budget as the next step in the process. What’s more, each line item on the budget should also map back to your IT strategy. If your team has done an excellent job of sharing and communicating your strategy, it will direct the budgetary process. Rather than needing to justify every item, you will only need to tweak the amounts.

Why Is Planning & Budgeting Critical?

Prioritizing funds and assets for all the things that will aid your company’s advancement depends on having a compelling technology strategy. In 2021 there are a few essentials to consider for a successful technology strategy.

Excellent examples to consider are the cybersecurity needs for both in-office and remote work, a technology framework that works for remote workers and removing obsolete work devices processes.

Look at tech innovations that can help save money long term for the company without impacting mission-critical areas. For example, workloads in an onsite datacenter ready for a tech refresh, or a colo datacenter at the end of its lease, may be better shifted to a public cloud provider. The savings can lead to a bit of wiggle room in the budget you can use for innovation.

Setting IT Strategic Planning KPIs

Empower your tech team to make informed decisions about IT spending by shifting to being a process that enables the strategic plan and delivers a significant competitive advantage.

IT strategic plans rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide the flexibility to support the business strategy, show financial basics, innovation, and delivery. Having metrics in place allows you to measure the success of your IT strategic plan. These metrics generally fall into these four major groups.

  • Financial fundamentals for the stewardship of technology expenditures & investments
  • Delivery metrics for tracking speed & execution
  • Portfolio metrics for prioritizing strategic innovation
  • Business value metrics for driving technology investments 

Besides, KPIs aid you in measuring if you’re hitting your desired targets or need to change parts of your strategy or business plan, and help focus your attention on what matters most.

Reflect on Trends Impacting Your Industry

This is critical to every business. Businesses have already stepped through immense challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have pivoted to keep pace with an ever-changing business climate.

It is essential to have a clear understanding of what is driving business in your industry and current trends essential. These will all contribute to growth, efficiency, competitive advantages, and customer experience and are the keys to both your business goals and IT strategy.

Besides, technology continues to drive changes in how we live and work. It’s the reason IT strategy needs to stay flexible to let you have room to pivot when required or adopt new trends. Otherwise, you will find it challenging to embrace the changes that are coming.

Keep the Focus on Execution

Beyond having an IT strategy, it is critical to carry out its objectives. Many company executives know that the key to an organization’s sustainability and success lies in its IT strategy, but 87% fail to execute it every year.

When this happens, it can have far-reaching impacts on a business’s success, resulting in missed opportunities, drops in expectations, frustration, or worse.

Strong IT leadership that can work with business executives is required for a robust IT strategy. Assessing the bandwidth and skills of your team is critical for successful execution.

It is also crucial to determine if you have the right mix in place, from resources to personnel. Include vendors, contractors, consultants, and staff when making your assessment.

Review these critical parts of your strategy and weigh them against the skills in the mix and your resources:

  • Improved response times from your IT support team
  • Digital experience enhancements
  • Offer new products on the digital platform
  • Global expansion
  • Costs reductions
  • Workflow improvements
  • Automation leveraging
  • Sales boosts

An IT strategy plan format can vary; it must support and align with the company’s business vision. Done right, it can lead to success and business expansion.

The Challenges in Implementing an IT Strategic Plan

There are challenges when it comes to implementing IT strategic planning. So, what are the specific challenges, and how do you manage them?

Management Are Not IT People

It is essential to remember that those in the top management of a company are primarily business people. They have a complete understanding of business strategy. Still, they find it a puzzle when it comes to IT, and they’re just not sure how the pieces fit with their goals.

Required Expertise

We know that the industry of IT covers a lot of ground. Without the proper experience, a lot of it can be confusing. What’s more, the realm keeps expanding to include software, hardware, infrastructure, and every communication method. Creating a cohesive strategy can be a challenge in the environment today.

Biases

Sometimes, key personnel’s experiences that they have had in the past color their perception of the IT department’s recommendations.  It is critical to consider the specific requirements for the entire company and use those as the basis for your IT strategic plan. It will aid you in making sure that every department’s objectives are met.   

Explaining the Value to Stakeholders

The final challenge that comes with implementing an IT strategic plan is knowing how to aid stakeholders in comprehending the value that robust IT provides to a business.

Generally, stakeholders don’t have a lot of IT knowledge which makes it essential to clarify the effective use of IT, return on investment, and intangible benefits in a way that the stakeholders can understand.

Apptio & IT Strategic Planning

Reconnecting strategy and operations to rebuild trust, credibility, and partnership is essential for IT strategic planning. It equally important that CIOs and CFOs have access to the same information. It allows them to make confident choices.

Apptio has been working with companies since 2007 to ensure they have the resources, products, and solutions they need to be successful. Get in touch today to learn more about essential KPIs and IT Planning.

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