IT strategic planning is the process of defining and executing a plan for how your organization can leverage IT to create value in the coming year. Strategic planning for IT provides guidance and aligns efforts across your organization, so that every department and team has a clear understanding of their role in supporting the company’s goals with IT. Strategic planning also enables you to identify opportunities where new technology or business processes could drive value, cost savings, or other benefits within your organization. In this blog post, we will explore five key principles of successful IT strategic planning with examples and offer some helpful tips for your organization.
Know your organization’s business goals
Before you can begin to think about where your organization wants to go, you first need to understand where it currently stands. Companies differ in the specifics of their business goals, but there are some common themes that are relevant to most organizations. For example, companies want to increase revenue and/or decrease costs, increase profits, create a better customer experience, or create innovative products or services. You should also be familiar with how your organization measures its financial performance. This includes how your company’s leaders define revenue, profit, and any other key financial metrics that are important to your organization. Knowing these things can help you stay focused on the business goals that are most important to your organization, and better understand how your IT can help achieve them.
Define where your organization wants to go
After you understand where your organization stands today, you can begin to think about where it wants to go in the future. Organizations may have a variety of goals in terms of new products and services, increased revenue, improved customer experience, etc. for the next one to five years. Defining this vision can help you identify where your organization needs to focus its resources, and what types of technology investments may be needed to achieve these goals. As you think about where your organization wants to go, it’s important to consider both the business goals that are important to your organization today, as well as those that may be important in the future. New technologies and trends emerge regularly, but they rarely happen overnight. Rather, they are often the result of an evolution that takes time to unfold. As you plan for the future, you want to keep an eye out for emerging technology trends that your organization may want to consider adopting in the future.
Estimate the cost of getting there
As you are thinking about the future state of your organization, you may begin to identify opportunities where new technologies or business processes could drive value, cost savings, or other benefits. But before you go out and start making technology investments, you need to be sure they are financially viable. For example, let’s say your organization wants to adopt an innovative new customer service model that enables customers to self-serve through a self-service website. If your customer service representatives handle most of your customers’ questions, this could be a cost savings for your business. You may be able to automate parts of the self-service model using artificial intelligence (AI) to handle customer questions outside of normal business hours. These are the types of things you should consider as you look for opportunities to drive value with new technology. At the same time, you also need to be aware of any constraints that may exist. For example, you might want to adopt a new customer service model, but your customers may prefer to be served by real people. If so, your organization may need to invest in more customer service representatives. You may want to adopt a new software solution, but realize that the cost is going to be higher than your organization can afford. Whatever you identify as opportunities to create value, you need to ensure they can be implemented within your organization’s constraints.
Identify the technologies that can help you get there
Now that you know where your organization wants to go, and have identified the potential value that new technologies or business processes could create, you can start thinking about which technologies may be able to help your organization get there. You can use a variety of tools to conduct this type of analysis. You could create a table, where you list your technology opportunities on the left side, and the technologies that could help you achieve them on the top. Or you could use a simple chart, where you list your technology opportunities on the left, and the technologies that could help you achieve them on the top. As you look for technologies that can help you achieve your technology opportunities, keep the following in mind. You want to select technologies that are aligned with your organization’s business goals, and that will fit within any constraints your organization may have. For example, if you want to adopt a new customer service model that would be achieved with AI and self-service, you want to make sure the technologies you select are compatible with this approach. You may want to consider more than one technology option so that you can have some flexibility in the future. Also, keep in mind that not all technologies will be the right fit for your organization. You may be able to find technology that is aligned with your goals, and that fits within your constraints, but it may not be the best fit for your organization.
IT strategic planning is the process of defining and executing a plan for how your organization can leverage IT to create value in the coming year. By knowing your organization’s business goals, defining where your organization wants to go, estimating the cost of getting there, and identifying the technologies that can help you get there, you can create a more successful IT strategic planning process.