IT plans and strategies within business have always been more of a reactive thought process – something goes wrong and then business owners realise their systems need fixing. If someone in the company needed a new computer, server or piece of software, the IT department would go out and buy it immediately. However, over the years things have changed and businesses can no longer afford to wait a day for a new computer to be set up. By having an IT strategy plan in place this can not only help to save time in the long run, but also costs.
What Is An IT Strategy Plan?
Think of this as similar to a business plan. An IT strategy plan is a guiding document for a company’s IT organisation. It should include the overall goals, the strategies to support the goals, as well as how the strategies are going to be executed.
The IT strategy should be split into different sections and each section should have its own strategy, as well as including the activities needed to achieve that. Now it can be a bit confusing to determine the difference between the IT strategy plan and the actual IT strategy. The plan is like the framework, and addresses all the gaps the current state of IT has and where it is not meeting the needs of the business.
An IT strategy plan will look at the following issues that the IT department have some level of control over:
- Better IT support response times
- Offering new products in a digital way
- Cutting costs & increasing sales
- Better workflow – leveraging automation
Of course the scope of an IT strategy plan will vary from company to company, depending on the size and industry which they are serving. One thing remains the same no matter what though – the IT strategy plan must be aligned with the overall vision of the business. The two must work in harmony together, towards the same outcome.
Components Of An IT Strategy Plan
So now we understand what an IT strategy plan is, exactly what is included within one? Let’s take a further look into this.
- Alignment with business strategy & objectives
As we briefly mentioned, the IT strategy plan should align with the overall business strategy. If a company decides to undergo a huge IT overhaul and invest in a new IT infrastructure then that should form the main part of the strategy. It is important that the IT department has direct communication with the business leaders in order to ensure the goals of the business are not misinterpreted in any way.
- Long-term initiatives
Any good IT strategy should focus on the long-term direction of the business (anywhere between 3-5 years). For example, if the business is looking to go digital and move away from traditional filing systems, the implementation of a paperless system needs to be included within the IT strategy plan. If there are no in-house IT resources, it may be worth considering partnering with an IT service provider who has these necessary skills to see the project through.
- Technology plans
It goes without saying that technology evolves over time, with constant new opportunities to provide a better, more efficient and reliable service. When reviewing IT strategies, technology should be at the forefront of this. A good example of this is that many businesses are looking to move their on-site data systems onto cloud hosting. The IT strategy roadmap should include a detailed plan of how this is going to be implemented, who will be affected, and the steps that will be taken in order to minimise downtime within the business.
- Communications plan
This may seem strange to add within an IT strategy plan, but think about it – the key to success in any business is clarity. If the IT department doesn’t have working communication hardware to keep both staff and customers informed, the business will fall apart. There is a balance between communicating enough and being seen as spam though.
- IT metrics & financials
Finally, a business IT strategy plan should include measures of success and key performance indicators that will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the IT systems are fulfilling their roles. There needs to be a separate IT budget which includes the general operational expenses, as well as any capital investments that need to be made.
Developing An IT Strategy Plan
Creating a comprehensive IT strategy plan can be incredibly challenging as there are so many different factors to consider. The ambition of the staff needs to be balanced against the resources that they have available to them at the time. Don’t expect to create the perfect IT strategy plan first time, there will be lots of drafts as it is reviewed by different stakeholders within the business.
If you would like to know more about outsourcing your IT support to the experts here at Reality Solutions we would be more than happy to discuss your individual requirements. Contact us on 01482 828000.
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