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How to Build a Strategic Plan for Your IT

Date: January 22, 2018 Author: Stephan Buys Category: Article Comments: 0

Your IT team is no longer the group of men in the back who fix your employees' computers when they break down. Today, this team plays an instrumental role in your business's overall success. So, shouldn't strategic planning and management for your IT team be placed on the front burner this year?

As changes in technology accelerate, it only makes sense that IT has its own plan -- and one that complements those of your company's other divisions, and of the company itself.

Not quite sure how to go about strategic planning and management for your IT team? We've compiled a guide for how you can create an effective plan for IT.

Let's get started!

Strategic Planning and Management: Have a Strategy First

Before your IT team can have its own strategic plan, it first needs to have a strategy. And this strategy needs to be based firmly on your company's strategic plan.

For instance, maybe your business's goal is to pour more money into a digital business transformation. In this case, IT needs to determine what this means for the business's existing architecture, culture, governance, operating processes, skills, and sourcing.

Meanwhile, maybe you operate a health system and you want your focus to receive reimbursements based on your patient service quality instead of your service volume.

In this situation, your IT team's plan might include a detailed roadmap for how the team can support the business more efficiently and maximize the reimbursements that flow into the company.

It's no longer enough to simply list the required financial investments or the technologies your team needs to implement. Instead, IT strategic planning and management is all about assessing the technological changes that need to be made to accomplish the organization's goals.

In addition, the line that used to exist between technology strategy and business strategy has faded away. In other words, technology strategy and business strategy are no longer dating partners. They are now married, so it's important to treat them as one.

And you need to do it quickly, too. If you drag your feet with your IT team's strategic planning and management process, your strategy may end up losing its focus as well as its relevance and currency. And then it's unfortunately back to the drawing board.

Your Planning Requires Some Planning

Before you embark on the journey of creating a strategic plan for your IT staff, you need to come up with a plan for developing your plan.

You may be saying to yourself, isn't that overkill? The answer is a resounding no -- not if you want your IT strategic planning process to be achievable and clear. Start with a current plan or one you previously used as a launch pad for your new one.

Think Mid-Term

Anyone in business understands the value of thinking long term. After all, you don't want to miss the forest for the trees. But the trees are important, too.

In other words, don't be afraid to adjust your binoculars so that you see more of what's in front of you -- what's on the horizon in the mid-term.

For instance, make sure that your plan addresses what will happen in the next year to 18 months, not just what will happen in the next decade. After all, technology is evolving like never before.

In addition, think ahead to how you want your IT team and the organization to look in five years as well. Realize, though, that a five-year plan won't be as clear and in focus as a 12-month plan will be. Instead, the five-year plan will encourage you to envision the future more broadly rather than focusing on incremental improvements.

Tackle the Nuts and Bolts

Some of the most important resources in your organization are your personnel. So, it only makes sense to make them a big part of your IT strategic plan.

A strong plan features information about the employees and staffing strategies you need to accomplish your desired business outcomes.

Your plan also needs to address the organizational changes and partnerships that will be instrumental in bringing your company's aims to fruition.

Other matters to address in your plan? A roadmap for your investment portfolio, information about risks, clear goals and relevant timeframes. If your strategy lacks these important nuts and bolts, you don't have much of a strategy.

Metrics Mania

You want your business to be successful -- that's a given. But how will you know that you have achieved success?

The only way to tell if you have been successful at the IT level is if you have success measures in place -- also known as metrics. These are essential components of any top-quality IT strategic plan. They're basically mile markers that point to your accomplishments over time.

Try to measure your key performance indicators and report on them at least once a month. If you don't take these indicators seriously, your IT strategic plan will be nothing more than a set of attractive-looking charts that have very little impact on your organization's IT operations.

What's Guiding You?

Sure, you have metrics to point you in the right direction and ensure that you reach your destination. But those exist outside of you.

So, what's guiding you from the inside?

Many leaders in IT include guiding principles for why they make the IT-related decisions they make. These principles need to tie into your organization's overall vision.

Think of these principles as your foundations and pillars -- the concepts that keep you grounded and pushing forward in the right direction.

By reading these principles, all IT staff should feel inspired to take the organization to the next level through digitization.

Plan out Your Future Planning

Many IT organizations create strategic plans every year. But with today's business environment changing at rapid speeds, you may need to create one more frequently. If you're like most companies, you may find quarterly updates to be the most practical and helpful for you.

How We Can Help

We offer a wide range of services to support your business's IT functions.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help your IT department to run like a dream as well as help your company to achieve its dreams this year.

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