Too often, businesses assume that adopting a certain technology will magically cure its problems. In reality IT strategy solutions like ERPs, automated workflows, even cloud-based storage solutions achieve success by playing their part in executing a broader business strategy.
Whether you’re building an IT strategy for your business from scratch, or rethinking the IT strategy already in place, remember that your IT strategy bridges the gap between business’s objectives and the technological tools the business will use to reach those objectives.
An IT strategy is comprehensive documentation which encompasses the business' vision and strategic planning for information technology. Ask yourself, “What does the future state of my business look like? What role will technology play in this future state?” and more importantly, “What will it take to reach that future state, and how can technology help my business get there?”
An IT strategy would include budgeting, strategy documents, and operating models for the future state of the businesses’ technology needs.
Additionally, you want to include representatives from every department during strategic planning. Often, IT strategy planning is organized and led by your Chief Information Officer (CIO) or contracted out to a virtual CIO.
The secret value of formulating an IT strategy is that it causes you to consider the business strategy as a whole, and how each department fits into that strategy.
Often, companies realize that they lack a clear consensus around the business strategy, value proposition, and competitive advantage. IT aside, the entire company should be clear about these foundational elements to the business. Once everyone is aligned, goal-setting becomes much more effective. Your IT strategy outlines how technology will help each department meet those goals.
Of course, some IT implementations are a given.
Legal and regulatory compliance
You’re likely solving for these already. However, even single-point solutions should be adopted with a mind toward how they fit into the overall IT strategy. A hodge-podge of solutions can cause more problems than it solves and undermines your IT resilience.
An IT strategy doesn’t just consider where your business is, but where it’s going. With an IT strategy in place, you can make every solution and vendor decision with the future in mind, so you can set yourself up for success in the next step of your IT agenda.
With your business strategy completed and the framework for your IT strategy started you can clearly see where your business is currently and strategize how IT will help you reach your goals. There are a few simple steps you can take to put your IT strategy solutions into action.
Align with the business objectives.
Get information from important stakeholders.
Identify IT requirements and scope.
Examine current capabilities and how they work.
Define plans for improvement.
Talk to leadership to get buy-in and budget approval.
Find the resources you need.
Again, everyone from the C-Suite to the bottom-rung worker should be on the same page about what the business is good at, and how it should go about being good at it. Each business unit should intimately understand how their performance contributes to that strategy.
To help make each business unit more effective, you should work to field input from those departments about how they work and what obstacles stand in the way of higher performance.
Is it unclear metrics? Redundant manual tasks? Lack of communication with adjacent business units?
Don’t just ask business leaders. Ask their subordinates, too, through conversations, surveys, and group interviews.
Once you understand their goals and problems, you can build out those IT strategy solutions to help solve those problems and inefficiencies.
IT can’t fix everything, and expecting such creates a reactive, dysfunctional, unproductive IT environment.
Your IT strategy must contain specific milestones for your short-, mid-, and long-term goals. Just like any other business unit, your IT department should know what functions fall under its purview, and which ones do not.
Without understanding the scope of your IT department’s duties, it becomes impossible to measure their progress.
Take stock of your existing IT capacity and capability. That includes your hardware, staff, data, and operating systems. Using your IT strategy, you can assess the value of each solution.
Though they may meet their immediate purpose, they may not contribute to the broader business and IT strategy. Your IT strategy allows you to make more intentional decisions around your IT solutions and workflow.
In this light, you can assess where your IT needs to be to achieve the future state of your business, and what it will take to get there. It also allows you to map out the ROI of adding new tools, partners, and resources.
Once you’ve got your IT bases covered — the IT necessities that your business needs to function properly — your IT strategy lets you consider expanding your IT capabilities. With concrete, measurable goals and timelines, you can more accurately map out the ROI of adding new tools, partners, and resources.
If goals lead to objectives and milestones lead to goals, KPIs lead to milestones. Yet departmental KPIs tend to be arbitrary, unclear, or unrealistic. Or there can simply be too many of them.
Your KPIs must be tied to things that actually matter. This is true for the IT strategy, individuals, departments, and the business at large. Your IT strategy can show how technology can help facilitate, identify, and measure the KPIs that deliver the most impact.
Without having corporate, C-suite, stakeholder, or leadership buy-in, it could be challenging to get your strategy off the ground. This goes back to getting input from team members from the top to the bottom of your organization’s hierarchy.
The biggest mistake CTOs, CIOs, and Directors of IT make is creating their strategies in a vacuum. Doing so increases opportunities for misalignment and inaccurate expectations. Though the IT leader has ownership of the IT strategy, other leaders can give vital input about the business’s evolving needs. Embracing their input increases buy-in and increases the likelihood for a successful IT strategy.
Describe the resources it will take to achieve its goals, such as budget, staff, skills, training, and tools. You will need to prioritize the tasks that will bring future development into the present and provide goals, requirements, deliverables, and timelines.
As with many in-house IT departments, resources are often stretched thin when the IT team has to tackle additional projects and long-term technology decisions such as digital transformation.
Working with an IT consultant, like Vudu, helps you make sure you have sufficient employees with the right expertise to support both new IT plans and ongoing tasks. You can also get assistance in creating a comprehensive IT strategy that works for your business and helps you reach your goals.
Above all, your IT vendor provider should be capable of giving strategic input that aligns, supports, and facilitates business objectives. You want to work with a team of IT industry experts who strive to understand your business and provide you with customized solutions that elevate your business.
At Vudu, we have the experience, technical ability, and business acumen to fill the strategic void at your leadership table. Not only can we help cement an IT strategy, we have the organizational excellence to help you bring it to life.
At Vudu, we are technology wizards who want to bring IT magic to your business and achieve supernatural results. Are you working on an IT strategy to take your business to the next level? Tell us more about your goals.