When it comes to the success of your organization, an information technology strategy is vital. It allows you to realistically visualize your long-term business objectives by mapping your exact route through the tech landscape. But one question remains:
How does one go about developing IT strategy?
In this article, we offer a step-by-step guide to developing an effective IT strategy for your enterprise. By the end of this blog you’ll also understand what an IT strategy is, why it’s important, and how it can benefit your organization.
What Is an IT Strategy?
Before we get started, it’s important to clarify what an IT strategy for business actually entails. Broadly speaking, an IT strategy is just one part of your overall business strategy. But make no mistake—it’s one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle.
An IT strategy—also known as a technology strategy—is a plan that covers the principles, tactics, initiatives, and ambitions associated with the implementation of tech within your company. This creates a roadmap that guides your organization’s choice of technologies as well as the key people who will be responsible.
Is an IT Strategy Necessary?
The short answer is yes, an IT development strategy is necessary. In an increasingly digital world, it’s clear that IT resides at the heart of every serious business. Whether it’s used to streamline day-to-day operations or leverage machine learning (ML) to derive key metrics, information technology is what makes it all possible.
Put another way, a strategic IT plan is one of the most effective ways to achieve your business goals both lofty and mundane. This is especially true for businesses interested in gaining or maintaining a competitive advantage, optimizing time-consuming business processes, or improving long-term operational efficiency.
How to Develop an IT Strategy in 6 Steps
The IT strategy development process can be broken down into a set of six general steps. Below, we discuss these steps so you can begin to create an IT strategy from scratch.
1. Audit Your Current IT Systems and Infrastructure
Before you plunge headfirst into the planning process, take stock of your current IT infrastructure. The amount of time and effort you devote to this assessment depends entirely on your goals. If you’re aiming for a comprehensive digital transformation, then you’ll need to be particularly thorough.
This preliminary stage marks the first step in your gap analysis. At this point, it’s not unusual to be confronted with redundant or obsolete tech. Alternatively, you may discover that you’ve been paying for tech that isn’t being used at all.
The bottom line is this: By understanding the current state of your IT systems, infrastructure, and architecture, you’ll be better equipped to devise a suitable plan to bridge these gaps.
2. Align Your Business Objectives
There is no ready-made IT strategy. Every strategy is as unique as the business it serves. But it all starts with aligning your business objectives across the entire organization. Take into account things like:
- Sales targets
- Growth planning
- Demand forecasting
- Marketing and advertising
- Supply chain and logistics
- Potential partnerships
Take the time to understand each department’s individual goals and incorporate these into your overall vision. Uniting the company’s business units under a shared set of objectives is key to devising a well-rounded and holistic plan.
This stage also involves the cooperation of external stakeholders. Use surveys, interviews, and meetings to make sure your internal vision supports their ideas for future growth.
3. Outline IT Scope and Requirements
With your IT strategy and business objectives aligned, it’s time to start working through the more quantitative aspects of your plan. Decide on the scope, requirements, and timeline of your IT strategy. Remember to integrate the information you gathered during the previous two steps.
In order to stay on target and remain accountable for your deadlines, consider incorporating periodic milestones. These are predetermined dates where you’ll share the progress you’ve made with your team. Before proceeding to the next step, ensure that the work’s efficacy and relevance are validated.
4. Map Out Your IT Architecture
At this point you should have a firm grasp of where you are and where you want to go. With this in mind, you can begin to map out the architecture you’ll need to get there—from hardware and software to people and resources.
As you move through this stage, it’s vital to remain compliant. Because compliance regulations can vary from department to department, make sure to evaluate each business unit separately.
By the end of this step, you should have a detailed understanding of the big picture. This means knowing how all of your IT assets will work together across the entire company. This will also help you anticipate potential challenges before they arise.
5. Define KPIs and Metrics
Defining and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is an effective way to measure progress towards your business objectives. It may sound cliché but, as the old maxim goes, “what gets measured gets done.” A good KPI is should be:
- Quantifiable and actionable;
- Long-term and strategic;
- Oriented towards the big picture;
- Applicable company-wide.
Metrics, on the other hand, are specific to each business unit. As a result, individual departments will be responsible for defining their own targets and measuring their success.
In contrast to the strategic KPIs, metrics are tactical. Some key metrics include capacity utilization, delivery time, sales performance, marketing ROI, help desk tickets, and employee satisfaction.
6. Approve Your Plan and Budget With Leadership
Your IT strategy for business is now ready and you’re itching to get going. But there’s still one hurdle: Getting approval from company executives and investors. This is known as “stakeholder buy-in”.
At this point, you’ll want to submit your technology strategy for review among the higher-ups. The goal is to secure the funding and support you’ll need to execute it, so it’s important to include certain key information. For example, each IT initiative should have a corresponding data-driven ROI projection.
What Are the Benefits of Developing an IT Strategy?
Before wrapping up, let’s look at the key benefits of an IT development strategy. When done correctly, an IT strategy can help your organization:
- Remain competitive in a rapidly changing tech landscape;
- Identify and eliminate redundancies, bottlenecks, or unused resources;
- Effectively budget for both short- and long-term IT expenditure;
- Clarify big picture business goals;
- Streamline operational efficiency and compliance across business units;
- Improve security and contingency plans in the event of a disaster;
- Delegate decision-making roles to the right people.
Develop an Effective IT Strategy for Your Business, With cyberCSI
Now that you know how to develop an IT strategy, you may still be wondering who should develop it. A technology strategy typically involves the cooperation of key IT personnel alongside senior managers.
But if your organization has a limited IT staff—or a sizable one that’s already swamped with day-to-day tasks—then it’s time to consider IT outsourcing. A managed services provider (MSP) can help your business with both the development and execution of an IT strategy.
Whether you’re looking to fine-tune critical IT systems or implement a company-wide digital transformation, cyberCSI can help. With over 25 years of industry experience, combined with a customer satisfaction rating (CSAT) of 95%, it’s no wonder we’re one of California’s premier MSPs. Contact us today to learn more.