Your business must have an IT strategy if it’s to stay afloat these days – and if you don’t have a CIO, you’ll likely have to create, or help create, that IT strategy yourself.
But what makes for a good IT strategy?
The answer is simple: base it on your business plan. The reason is, if you want business growth, IT must support your business plan. It’s not a random act of deployment!
So – after your business plan is in place, you can work on your IT strategy. And as one shifts and adjusts over time, so too will the other.
Let’s look at IT strategy more closely.
IT Strategy: Who Needs It?
All businesses benefit from a good IT strategy, regardless of industry, and even if you’re “only” a small to medium-sized business.
On the other hand, lack of strategic direction and leadership in IT will leave your business open to
- losing your competitive edge because no one is leading the technology initiative,
- missing necessary infrastructure because IT isn’t prioritized and executed effectively,
- falling prey to hackers and cybersecurity threats, and
- failing to comply with governance and legal obligations.
And that’s just for starters! So, you need an IT strategy based on – and supporting – your business goals.
Your IT Strategy and Plan
Your IT strategy primarily ensures you have the correct tech in place to reach the goals within your business plan:
1 Your strategy should be based on People, Process, and Technology (PPT). “People” will include IT staff, vendors, consultants, and firm employees.
2 “Technology” will include the obvious computers, network, and internet (infrastructure) but also includes all of the software applications that run on top of the Infrastructure.
3 “Processes” are the glue that bring People and Technology together for the desired outcomes.
In addition, a good strategy is also flexible enough to change as technology changes over time.
And once you have the strategy, you need an IT plan to effect it.
To differentiate IT strategy from the business goals and IT plan, let’s look at an example:
One of your business goals is perhaps better, faster, easier communications.
Your IT strategy might be to migrate to cloud and also install VoIP phones.
Your IT plan details how and when you will safely move to cloud and the timing of how you will go about sourcing and introducing VoIP phones.
So – in general, an IT plan includes:
- The roadmap to realize your overall goals
- A timeline that shows when to deliver items and milestones
- Specifics of what you’re delivering
- Resources available or needed to help achieve these goals – including people, technology, budget, and other necessary resources
- Roles and responsibilities of employees who will help make this happen
What Makes for a Good IT Strategy?
1 The person responsible for your IT strategy needs to understand your company internally and externally. They’ll take into account your business strengths and opportunities as well as weaknesses and threats.
2 They’ll assess your infrastructure and applications, then make recommendations to help bring about your business goals and build the strategy around this.
3 They’ll use their expertise to give your IT a strategic direction going forward – one that makes good use of tech to best support your business goals.
How an IT Strategy Supports Your Business Goals
An IT strategy will answer some essential questions you need to confront:
- Where is your business at this moment?
- How can you reach its objectives?
- What IT resources do you need to reach your objectives?
- What challenges do you need to overcome to reach those objectives?
What Are the Benefits of a Sound IT Strategy?
You’ll find these benefits among others:
- The strategy helps you identify risks surrounding your current IT in terms of your business goals. These can be rectified to increase your productivity, streamline operations, and ensure compliance.
- It increases cybersecurity in today’s age of huge data assets. It’s like an audit that ultimately helps protect your business.
- You’ll have a plan for IT budgeting, rather than facing uncoordinated hit-and-miss requests.
- You can implement necessary changes in an orderly fashion.
- It will help increase your bottom line, by prioritizing productivity and profit over siloed ops.
However, to benefit, your organization needs to plan. And there are four key components of every IT strategy.
Four Steps You Need to Take to Create an IT Strategy
This four-step process will help you create a solid IT strategy, based on an audit of your entire business and IT infrastructure.
The Business Vision. Where is the business along the business maturity lifecycle – startup, growth, going concern, preparing for an exit, etc., and where is the business heading in the next 3-5 years?
The IT Vision. What IT (PPT) is needed to support your business goals? How should it all be put in place and work together?
Identify IT Gaps. What are the current gaps (in people, processes, and technology) between your current IT and your future needs?
The Plan. Which steps do you need to take to fill the gaps? What details do you require? Who is responsible, and what are the dates and timelines? This is the strategy!
You’ll find you now have in place, or know, these things:
- How to increase efficiency and improve collaboration.
- How to understand where your IT budget is being spent.
- Which better reporting and analytics you need for reliable and accurate insights throughout your organization’s processes.
- Insight into your current state of cybersecurity, how to stay protected, and if you need to comply better with security standards.
- How to improve infrastructure resilience to catch areas related to downtime and any high costs related to that.
- How your IT department can further the initiative with resources and project planning.
- Improved communication and alignment between IT and other company leaders, resulting in better business processes and culture.
CIO Suite Can Create an IT Strategy for You!
Is your greatest wish to have a CIO in place, or at least find someone who can provide strategic leadership and direction for your organization’s technology initiatives?
At CIO Suite, we understand that not everyone can immediately appoint a CIO to develop and execute your IT strategy.
In the interim, you have the option of leadership on demand – hiring a fractional CIO to
- assess your IT,
- prioritize competing IT demands,
- create an IT strategy perfect for your company’s goals, and
- help you navigate any complex IT challenges you currently have.
Don’t struggle alone! Get in touch with CIO Suite today and schedule a meeting to discuss your needs.