As we’ve seen over the past several years, Secure Information Technology (IT) has proven to be a boon for growing businesses, helping improve productivity by enabling communication, data analysis, and workflow optimization. You cannot overstate the importance of IT in any small or medium-sized enterprise.
With the rising significance of IT, companies have increased spending on computing infrastructure and digitization. To ensure that your spending on IT guarantees a Return on Investment, you’ll need an all-in-one strategy. Since you agree that getting a fast return on your investment equals success, you’d want to know that what you’re spending on IT gets helps you drive your firm’s bottom lines. An IT strategy will help align your IT performance with business goals.
When you have your IT team working proactively in a strategic direction, you can optimize the utilization of technical infrastructure, maximizing productivity. A properly defined IT strategy helps you and the CIO define the long-term vision for your firm’s technological needs. Having an IT strategy also makes it easier for you to delegate decision-making, making your firm more agile. Finally, an IT strategy gives your company a technical roadmap that allows you to respond to changes in technology and in your industry.
We have seen that an IT strategy is crucial in enabling your firm to tap into the benefits of modern technology. An effective IT strategy provides a platform that directs how your CIO implements technology solutions. Here are the top 5 tips on developing an All-in-One IT strategy:
1. Begin with the End in Mind
For your IT strategy to be effective, it has to align with your business needs and goals. You should, therefore, prioritize your IT in the context of your firm’s strategy and objectives. Seek to understand your company’s roadmap to success and use this as a guide for optimization. Basically, IT should help in work optimization and strategy execution. IT infrastructure usually introduces extra costs and complexities to your business. It doesn’t make sense to invest in technologies that don’t drive your firm’s bottom-lines.
Before setting up an all-inclusive IT strategy, you should communicate to the CIO the objectives of each department within your organization. Take into account your firm’s sales targets, growth plans, logistics, demand forecasts, and new partnership opportunities. This way, you can create a holistic strategy that addresses the needs of all business divisions.
The goal of coming up with an IT strategy is to align IT capabilities with your business’ aims and objectives. This means that CEOs, CIOs, and management should clearly communicate IT objectives that are driven by the company’s vision and values. Having clearly laid out IT goals will be the foundation of planning and growth of your company’s IT architecture.
When hiring for the IT department, all employee job descriptions will match the functions of IT resources with overall business goals. To realize this, the hiring department could prioritize conversations on how employee productivity impacts business goals. This will also allow the CIO and hiring department to set appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for IT staff. Overall, an effective IT strategy will direct your staff on how to realize your company’s vision through ongoing IT projects.
Your IT strategy will provide a roadmap of how technology will support your growing company’s vision. When coming up with the strategy, you should mirror business projects and take into account the needs of all stakeholders. Ideally, you will need an understanding of the technology needs of each department, their business goals and how your IT architecture can help them achieve this. You and your CIO could, therefore, fold the IT strategy into the company’s strategic plan for ease of adoption.
2. Consult Key Stakeholders
A properly designed IT strategy addresses both your company’s current technological needs and future growth. To achieve this, you need to gain an understanding of the key trends in your industry. Internal and external stakeholders all have a crucial role in the effective allocation of resources, including IT Infrastructure. When you engage stakeholders, you set up a framework for proper decision-making regarding the use of technology.
Stakeholder engagement also results in greater satisfaction with the strategy since the plan involves their input. Engaging stakeholders also makes them feel ownership of the IT strategy, leading to a greater chance of successful implementation. Stakeholder consultation is, therefore, important for the long-term effectiveness of your IT strategy.
Consulting with executive and operations teams will help the CIO understand key trends and analyze common themes when creating an IT strategy. This will enable the IT team to purchase the right IT systems and equipment for your firm. Speaking to stakeholders will help IT staff to understand the short and long term technology needs for each department within the company. As a result, the CIO and IT team can create a clear technological roadmap that will guide procurement and hiring decisions. Major stakeholders make the final financial decisions in any business entity. Keeping them in the loop regarding your IT strategy will give you the best chance of approval and support for your projects.
Additionally, creating an IT strategy for a modern, medium-sized enterprise requires both knowledge and people management capabilities. Consulting key stakeholders will grant you and your CIO access to key data and insights regarding optimal IT budgets. Your firm will benefit from an IT strategy with systems and policies that include plans for institutional knowledge management. Such plans can only be created after deep consultations with relevant stakeholders
3. Define the Scope and Requirements of IT Infrastructure
Having assessed your business needs and communicated with key stakeholders, you will need to examine the needs and timeline of your IT strategy. When coming up with the scope, it’s best to keep it in line with the needs of your organization and each department.
Therefore, when defining IT strategy, ensure that you set both long-term and short-term goals that are in line with the existing IT infrastructure. This will help you formulate actionable goals that clarify your strategic paths. You will, therefore, leverage technology to maximize profits and improve business processes.
One way to come up with goals for your IT infrastructure involves identifying bottlenecks in your current infrastructure. The IT team can help examine the specific areas and departments that require additional resources to optimize productivity. The CIO can also assess and analyze IT solutions for their effectiveness and shortcomings to guide in defining the scope of IT infrastructure and needs. The requirements of IT infrastructure will also guide your IT department’s daily actions toward set goals. Everyone’s daily tasks will be aligned to the CIO’s, CEO’s and company’s vision for business.
4. Take Stock of Existing Infrastructure
IT strategy emphasizes the optimum utilization of technological resources. Before you purchase additional infrastructure, you should examine the capabilities of your current technologies. Below is a list of the typical IT infrastructure that an organization should have:
When coming up with an IT strategy, take stock of all the software and devices in your firm and how they are currently being utilized. Not only will this give you an overview of your technological environment, it will also show you where you need to focus your efforts for optimized performance. An understanding of your current technological capabilities will also align your strategies for alignment to spur change and growth. This allows you to plan for resource allocation which you can carry out later when you have the funds.
You will also need to understand the capabilities of your existing workforce. IT staff is there to ensure that all systems and devices are available for your employees and clients as needed. It is, therefore, important to examine the technology needs of your company, the size of IT infrastructure and your IT team’s ability to deliver seamless support. A well-staffed IT department will go a long way in the profitable utilization of your company’s technology, so have a plan to constantly assess their effectiveness.
This way, you can pinpoint any gaps in current technologies, and how you can reach business goals using the least disruptions while minimizing costs. You need to factor in the proficiency of your employees with current technology, the technical challenges that every department faces, and how each tool fits into your firm’s general infrastructure. Examining the results you achieve with existing technology will help create an IT strategy that addresses current shortcomings.
5. Be Agile
We live in an era of unprecedented technological changes. Agility and flexibility are becoming crucial factors in determining whether firms can thrive in this digital world. Your strategy should be flexible enough so your organization can change direction and create new capabilities as soon as new technologies hit the market. When talking about a “Flexible Technology” or a “Flexible IT Infrastructure”, we are basically referring to how easy it is for the technology to adapt or to be adapted to meet both the current and the future needs, and changes that will inevitably occur in the organization’s IT strategy.
Your IT strategy should support frequent changes in technical needs. To achieve agility, your IT staff should work alongside other departments during every step of strategic planning. Documenting and updating changes to your technological architecture will help guide decisions about IT initiatives. IT needs to have various architectures that integrate seamlessly into your technological ecosystem but recognize the need for change in business priorities and needs. With an agile strategy, you maximize technological utilization while ensuring your business stays afloat amid frequent technical changes.
Your IT strategy also needs to account for the mobility needs of your employees. As more employees become tech-savvy, you will notice an increase in the number of devices in your networks. Your IT strategy should have in place measures to let your employees work anywhere. In today’s increasing global economy, you will need to keep your employees as productive as possible when working remotely or on a flexible work arrangement. An agile strategy helps achieve this by enabling collaborative and virtual working applications.
Using these 5 tips will put you on track to creating the right all-in-one IT strategy for your firm. To get the most out of your strategy, you should make it agile and flexible enough to take advantage of technological changes. Your IT strategy will serve as a technical roadmap when it is properly aligned with your firm’s business objectives and addresses all stakeholders’ needs.