When developing an IT strategy for your business, you need to find ways to align business strategy and IT to create an actionable plan that will help you drive success through technology in a way that supports your day to day operations. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what a technology strategy is, a step-by-step breakdown of creating an IT strategy, and how an effective plan can help you attain your business goals and objectives.
What is Information Technology Strategy?
Before you begin creating your strategic plan, it helps to understand the fundamentals of an IT strategy. An IT strategy is a detailed plan that outlines how information technology should be utilized to help you accomplish your business goals. Developing an IT strategy involves creating a document that provides a comprehensive overview of the factors that impact your company’s current and future technology investments. It should promote business alignment while contributing to the shaping of your overall business strategy.
What Should Be Included in an IT Strategy?
An IT infrastructure strategy should cover everything related to IT management within your organization. Examples of what should be features in your IT strategy include:
- Vendor management
- Human capital management
- Risk management procedures
- IT cost management and budgeting
- Management of critical software and hardware
Your IT strategy should also include critical elements such as a long-term plan as well as customized roadmaps that outline your technology goals and what is required to reach them. If you’re having trouble getting your ideas down, you should consider meeting with your Chief Information Officer (if your company has one), a third-party virtual CIO, or an information technology strategy consultant from a managed service provider.
Developing an IT Strategy: The Step-by-Step Guide
Now that you understand what you need to include in your IT strategy, you can begin to put your plans into action. Follow these steps to develop and execute an IT strategy that will give your company a competitive advantage.
1. Ensure the Alignment of Business Strategy and IT
One of the true measures of success for any IT strategy is to ensure that it aligns with your overall business strategy. When developing an IT strategy, both your senior leadership team and the IT department should be on the same page regarding your day-to-day operations before following through with any changes. The executives and the IT staff might have differing views on how the company should be run. However, it is crucial for both sides to understand how the business operates and the impacts information technology has on it. Scheduling meetings between the leadership and IT to hash out your strategy is one effective way to achieve strategic alignment.
2. Ensure the Right People are Involved
Successful alignment is reached when everyone buys into and supports the strategic plan. Additionally, you need to have the right people and departments involved to take your plan from conception to completion. As you begin aligning IT and business strategy, some of the people that should be involved with the development of your strategy include:
- A financial analyst
- Senior management
- IT department leaders
- IT engineers and architects
- Third-party IT industry experts
IT strategies succeed when the right combination of internal and external individuals are involved. Relying solely on your internal staff for strategic IT discussions is generally not the best way forward. Instead, you should bring in an information technology strategy consultant to provide their input to complement the ideas of your in-house team.
3. Clearly Outline Your Goals and Objectives
Developing an IT strategy for your business requires direction. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t reach your destination.
What is an information technology strategy without direction?
A haphazardly crafted plan that seeks to make quick fixes, upgrades and implementations without properly addressing your company’s future needs. In order to be successful, your IT strategy must be as detailed as possible. An effective, high-level IT strategy should focus on procuring and deploying technology that not only improves your internal efficiency and collaboration, but also the delivery of your products or services, customer service management, and more. Examples of objectives that could be included in your IT infrastructure strategy include:
- Enhancing efficiency and service delivery by automating certain tasks
- Improving your cybersecurity posturing to bolster privacy and data protection
- Leveraging information technology to make your business a better place to work
- Developing strategies to improve the scalability of your IT to align with business growth
- Examining the strengths and weaknesses of your organization prior to undergoing a digital transformation
- Finding ways to improve your customer experience through new or upgraded technologies
4. Define the Metrics for Success
When you are able to clearly define how business strategy and IT can be aligned, you can then determine what the success metrics of your IT strategy will be. Some common examples of critical success factors include:
- Budget management for IT projects
- User experience, adoption, and satisfaction rates
- Goals and objectives being met on time and within your budget
- Improvements to real-time service levels across your organization
5. Improve Internal Technology Decisions
After meeting with your leadership and IT teams and ensuring alignment, one conclusion you might arrive at is the feasibility of a digital transformation. If your company is using outdated technology that is preventing you from reaching your potential, it may be time for upgrades or replacements. With the help of information technology strategy consulting, you can make plans and start budgeting for critical elements such as:
- Migrating to the cloud
- Finding and deploying suitable technologies
- Ensuring and maintaining industry compliance
- Determining the right level of security protection
- Procuring new technologies vs. building them in-house
- Filling skill and capacity gaps through external sourcing
Reach Your Business Goals With Information Technology Strategy Consulting
Now that you understand the fundamentals of developing an IT strategy, you may find that you require assistance to develop and execute your plan. Fortunately, help is close at hand. For over 25 years, Technology Advisory Group has helped companies in Rhode Island and New England create high-level strategic plans that align their business strategy and IT. Our advisory services and Virtual Chief Information Officers (vCIOs) offer strategic technology consulting that promotes budget management, business alignment, and educated IT decisions that secure a better future for our clients. Book a meeting with an information technology strategy consultant today and get on the right track to creating an IT strategy that drives success.