Technology is being embraced by businesses. According to a Microsoft survey of 600 small and medium businesses:
- Most employees want to support more remote work.
- Two-thirds (60%) of the organizations use some type of cloud-based solution.
- Group chat and video conferencing are used by nearly two-fifths.
Utilizing new technology and maximizing existing IT investments isn’t easy. The survey found that only one-third of respondents had a single preferred supplier. A business with two-thirds of the market doesn’t have a trusted partner and the ones with the least amount of IT strategy are those with no strategy at all.
No matter your level of experience or expertise in planning IT strategies, it can be hard to know just where to start. In that regard, we’ve created five steps you can use to plan an IT strategy:
- Clearly define your business’s objectives and goals:
Having an IT strategy plan primarily serves the purpose of supporting the business. When planning, start with an overview of your business goals and high-level objectives. A company’s mission and needs can be clarified if it does not have an overarching business strategy.
- Identifying the pipeline and target sales.
- Plan any upcoming mergers or acquisitions.
- Growth plans.
- What other actions your teams may be putting in place.
It is imperative to take this step. Organizations that are successful align their IT planning and business strategy to achieve both.
- Plan, scope, and schedule your project:
To define your scope, stakeholders, and schedule, we must first create a list of goals.
Defining your stakeholders is critical to clarifying your business IT strategies, whose responsibility it is to deliver, and where they must be implemented. Consider consulting with key business users within the unit to learn how they use technology, how they plan to use it next year, and how IT can help.
It’s also important to determine the lifespan of your IT strategy. However, you may want to review and redefine your strategy more often. Find some examples of IT strategies. Identify the phase requirements – implementation, integration, review, etc. – and know when it’s time to activate the strategy, and when it’ll need to be revised.
The implementation of an IT strategy plan, scope, schedule, and list of stakeholders will be easier if you have a clear internal or external perspective.
- Analyze your existing infrastructure:
Planning an IT strategy shouldn’t involve reinventing the wheel. You will be able to define problems, see what’s working and how you can best save resources by making use of what you already have. Start by asking yourself:
- Are there any technologies that teams and departments are using? Which tools, software, and systems do they use? Using information you’ve gathered from various teams in your company, you should be able to answer the question.
- How are things going? Are there any things that aren’t? Assess the effectiveness of how the information technology is being used and figure out which programs, software, and systems are providing the most benefit.
Putting your current infrastructure into perspective will allow you to plan an IT strategy based on the resources you already possess. The data will help you identify where you can save time and money by replacing your existing infrastructure or switching your IT provider.
- Plan and allocate resources
If you’ve followed the correct process, this step might seem the most challenging, but it shouldn’t be difficult.
Organize the major tools, software, and hardware you will be using for your project into overall technology architecture. You should also assess any department-specific technology that might be required to accomplish your business goals, including finance and HR software. Lastly, consider how the individual elements in your architecture will integrate, and what processes will govern their integration.
Use a spreadsheet or other document to collect all of this information and give you a clear picture of your architecture, how much you’re spending, and who will be using it.
- Identify your metrics
Keeping in mind that your IT strategy supports your business needs, it needs to be functional and cost-effective. Business advancement has to make you money; otherwise, you will lose money on it!
You need to identify some key KPIs and metrics so you can benchmark and see how your IT plan is performing over time. Among these may be:
- Help desk calls are an indicator of service level.
- Utilization of capacity, for example, is an operational indicator.
- Budgets and customer satisfaction are business-level indicators.
- The feedback from customers and end-users is a qualitative indicator.
An IT strategy can help your business grow and operate more efficiently, advancing your goals and empowering your staff.