This is Part 2 of our series on establishing an overarching IT framework within which the IT Department organizes and operates the IT role. We look forward to seeing your thoughts and comments.
Handled correctly, a strategic IT plan can become a chief factor that organizes and propels a business forward (and fast). However, a major issue for many IT leaders, is the near constant struggle of being pulled in multiple directions to deal with immediate technology obligations and losing focus on supporting the long term goals of the business.
In our first post in our series on IT Planning, we introduced an effective planning framework that we use to help organizations of any size get organized from the top down. This included a ‘how-to’ on establishing a clear and concise departmental vision, governance model, organizational chart and performance plan.
As a follow up to Strategic IT Planning, we decided to share our playbook for goal setting. In this article, we look at 6 tasks that need to be done prior to establishing strategic goals for your IT Department.
6 Essential ToDo’s Before Creating 2–3 Year Goals
1. Review the Business Strategy, Vision, Goals, Initiatives, Capabilities and Risks
Understanding the overall business context in which the IT dept operates is an important step in guiding long term alignment with business needs. This step can greatly assist in identifying ways in which IT can contribute to the business success that may not be obvious from an insular IT outlook.
2. Perform a SWOT Analysis
Identify and analyze the IT department strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats (that are usually external to IT; i.e. in the greater business context or externally to the company). A realistic assessment can lead to identifying new ways to be better as well as ensuring that risks are identified and properly managed.
3. Understand the Financial Picture
Review past and current IT budgets keeping overall business budget and strategy in perspective. This can give the planning and budgeting process grounding in realistic terms.
4. Assess current IT Environment
Inventory and be conscious of IT Dept resources in order to understand the capabilities and limitations of existing technologies and competencies. This exercise can help you prioritize when, how and where you modernize software platforms or introduce new technologies to your workplace.
5. Assess Current Alignment with Business Goals
Evaluate how your IT technologies can add value to the organization. Help business managers find solutions to issues such as minimizing data entry and reentry into different systems, new mobile worker technologies, cloud collaboration systems etc. Research new technologies that may be specific and well used within your industry such as field data capture to streamline data flow to accounting and decision making platforms. The key is to identify business processes and goals that can be supported through technology.
6. Identify Gaps
Identify gaps where the IT department technology or competencies do not align with the current or future goals of the business. For example, if your organization has unique new plans to aggressively expand to new areas, ensure your long term IT plan includes new wide area networking and communications technologies, procedures and policies required to do so efficiently and to the least impact to business operations during the transition.
Developing a 2–3 year IT plan takes dedicated effort, but once it is done you will feel a greater sense of control and direction. Secondly, you’ll have a process in place to go back and critique, then refine your goals each year. You may even find that you are reaching your goals sooner than expected.
Next in our series on IT Planning is a review on yearly budgeting, and some effective tactics that will help you use your resources effectively. Contact us if you have questions about how Make IT can help implement an IT Framework for your business. Find more on our IT Consulting services here.