With Information Technology, creating ‘a plan’, more specifically a strategic IT management plan, will ensure a smart way of doing business. The outcome – making sure that the organization has a smart and well-structured way to approach the information technology deployment for the benefit of the business, it’s employees, customers and business partners.
As I mentioned in my previous blog “6 IT Planning Steps Ensure Successful IT Project Implementation,” the Information Technology strategic plan need not be, and indeed should not be, a technological discussion and effort. In most instances, when the departure point for an information technology plan is technological, it immediately alienates most of the business stakeholders who are not able to, and sometimes don’t want to, keep up with all the ‘techno speak’ and IT acronyms. The business needs should clearly lead the discussion and deal with:
- Business objectives
- Business processes
- Service provision
- Business culture
- Financial implications
The job of the IT folks is then to create real links between the above points and a clearly documented plan that will translate the techno speak and acronyms into real and effective IT support for the business. A strategic approach to the IT planning will ensure that all the business stakeholders’ strategies are understood and accommodated, be they a) new business, b) new products, c) new markets and d) profitability etc.
BUT, you have questions that need answers.
You’ll often hear….
Q: I’m not even sure I have the right resources and skills.
A: Understood! Part of the planning process includes a thorough organizational analysis and evaluation of the required resources and skills. You’ll be surprised what you have.
Q: I do not know how much I should be spending on IT.
A: The common approach is “what we can afford?” This is because IT is not connected to the business outcomes in real and measurable deliverables. We’ll set these parameters and clearly identify, define and plan the IT spend.
Q: It always seems that we are outpaced by IT developments.
A: You feel that you can never get abreast of technology development cycles that are moving at ever increasing speeds. Well, you very seldom have to be at the “leading edge” but keeping pace with developments is important.
Q: We don’t seem to be able to find vendors that understand our business.
A: Vendors are businesses just like yours. Communicating your business needs to them, understanding their business model and what they are motivated to do and how much they are prepared to invest in your joint success, is where the work lies. A good Information Technology strategic plan will define a vendor engagement model.
The goal – A Strategic Engagement Plan (“SEP”)
Your goal is to create a Strategic Engagement Plan for your Information Technology team that is thoroughly integrated with the rest of your business and is primarily driven by:
- What your employees and teams need to get the job done and drive business value.
- What your customers are asking for in the light of a competitive landscape.
- What leverage your business partners and vendors can provide by engaging and collaborating more effectively.
- What efficiencies in processes, communication and team efforts can be realized.
- The potential lying in wait in your total business ecosystem.
Driving your SEP with as much vigour and focus as you drive the rest of the business planning will produce significant results. Results that can be measured, managed and improved upon in the long term.
Making sure the technology team is well invested in the business success and daily lives of your employees, teams, customers and business partners/vendors will produce results that you will eventually come to rely on as a permanent part of running your business.
As always, I welcome your comments or questions below.