Most business leaders understand the importance of having a strategic plan for their information technology. An effective IT plan provides clear guidance on what technology investments and resources are needed in order to reach your strategic goals and how success will be measured.
Strategic plans have taken on new meaning in the digital age, where virtually all businesses are required to make technology a core part of their business vision.
Whereas IT plans could once be rigid and distinct from business plans, they are now by necessity aligned with the overall company strategy and must be flexible to the evolving demands of the market.
A solid IT strategic planning process model must allow the business to quickly course correct and enable new functionality while keeping costs. As a result, businesses get to keep most of their focus on core revenue-generating activities.
While the value of a well-thought-out IT plan is clear, getting started on creating one can be a challenge. Given its importance, it’s something businesses cannot afford to put off.
With that in mind, let’s examine the steps you need to reach your goals using the IT strategic planning process.
A Closer Look at the IT Strategic Planning Process Model
1. Determine Your Mission and Vision
One of the first things you need to do as part of the IT strategic planning process is to figure out your vision statement, or a mission statement. Ideally, you want to find a consensus among the leadership team about where the company wants to head and how IT can help you get there.
The vision statement can then be broken down into more specific business strategies, with technology requirements attached to each one.
Getting to the point is easiest by going through what is often called a discovery phase, where business and IT leaders identify the current state of IT, market opportunities, and what can be done to work towards capitalizing on them.
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2. Perform a SWOT Analysis
Before creating a strategic plan for your IT, it’s important to know where your business is already strong in technology, where it’s lacking, and which market opportunities and threats you should be focused on addressing.
The SWOT – short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – analysis is the classic method to determine these factors.
The analysis phase of the IT strategic planning process is when leaders should be gathering feedback, researching options, and thinking about where compromises can be made to develop a strategy (all while sticking within a realistic budget).
Ultimately, you are trying to figure out the best actions you can take, and how you will best take them. This includes thinking about the teams, technologies, and funding you will require.
3. Set Short- and Long-Term Strategic Goals
Once the strategy and strategic objectives are defined, it’s time to think about the short-term and long-term goals you will need to hunt down to make the vision a reality.
By tracking goals and getting teams aligned using the IT strategic planning process model, you are charting a clear path to strategic improvement and business growth.
Short-term goals can be thought of as those that take a year or two to complete, such as a software implementation project. Long-term goals might be more broad and ambitious in nature, such as a three-year plan to overhaul the entire digital customer experience.
Whatever your strategic goals are, they all need to be tied to the company’s overall business strategy.
4. Define the IT Strategy Map
With the big picture defined, you can begin to get more granular. Creating an IT strategy map, which is commonly referred to as an IT roadmap, means putting together project plans that detail the needs, goals, and budget of each part of the strategy execution process
The roadmap will be the guide that your employees work from as they execute on the IT plan, so it needs to be clear, detailed, and well-managed by IT leaders.
A solid roadmap will help to:
- Prioritize and report on progress
- Keep leaders informed on timelines and budget
- Properly align your IT with your business strategy
- Ensure all team members work effectively on their respective tasks
5. Create an Action Plan to Reach Your Goals
Now that you have a roadmap, you can begin assigning duties, setting roles and responsibilities, and making plans to get your team members trained on what they’ll need to know.
Deadlines are an important motivator that will keep you on track, and it’s worth thinking about things like meeting cadence and project management tools to keep communication sharp.
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6. Determine How Success Will Be Measured
It’s tempting to rush straight into strategy execution once you created your perfect IT plan. But before doing that, be sure to spend some time thinking about how you will measure the success of your plan and IT investments.
This won’t be the last strategic plan you will create for your IT, and it won’t go off without a hitch, so you need to know what worked and what didn’t.
If you implement key performance indicators (KPIs) of success to keep tabs on, you will have an easier time gaining buy-in for the next strategic plan when the time comes. If your strategy is not working, your benchmarks can give you a heads up and allow you to make changes that support your strategic objectives.
Master the IT Strategic Planning Process Model With a Proven Partner
Working to develop a strategy for your information technology can be challenging and requires extensive knowledge, so as you can imagine most companies like to leave it to the experts.
As one of Toronto’s leading managed IT service providers, Fusion Computing can help you create a strategic planning process for your business.
Backed by more than a decade of industry experience, our experts will guide you through the IT strategic planning process to help you develop a strategic plan that helps you reach your goals by aligning your IT with your business strategy.
Get on the fast track to IT strategy execution by contacting us today to schedule a meeting.