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Developing & Planning a Business IT Strategy

It’s normal to overlook IT when you’re just starting out.

Cobble together a few laptops, purchase an off-the-shelf Wifi plan, sign up for an enterprise email package and you’re ready to begin building your business.

At this point, you’re not really concerned about things like efficient cloud servers, suitable business laptops, or cybersecurity best practices. Your business is small enough to keep said factors in check.

However, as your business grows you will want to take a long hard look at your IT systems and strategy. If left unchecked, IT can be a net drain on your productivity and profitability. That’s the last thing you want. 

How to Develop an IT Strategy

Information Technology (IT) strategy is a roadmap that helps you to align your IT projects with business priorities. IT strategy development allows you to carefully plan for the long-term and evaluate your IT needs and priorities before you invest.

IT strategy for business helps you to:

  • Plan for the implementation of new tech initiatives
  • Keep a watchful eye over your IT budget
  • Mitigate the risk of IT failure and business disruption

There are multiple approaches to developing an IT strategy for business. It involves a sequential process that gives you a comprehensive view of your IT requirements and a clear strategy for meeting them. 

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 steps you can take to create an IT strategy for your business.

1. Align Your IT to Your Business Goals

It’s nearly impossible to accurately forecast your IT requirements unless you correlate them with your revenue and business growth goals. 

If, for example, you want to triple your sales pipeline this year then you will probably need to hire more staff, invest in cloud platforms such as Salesforce, and buy a corresponding number of new IT hardware assets.

It’s a similar story if you have another ambitious target such as shifting to a new office or starting a new business division. Ad-hoc IT spend doesn’t help anybody; you must bring all key internal decision makers on the same page and enhance collaboration between disparate stakeholders for better business alignment.

If your CIO has an in-depth understanding of where the business is headed and its strategic goals, it’ll make their life so much easier. Plus, you will avoid wasteful IT spend and buy only what you need. 

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2. Rope in Your Stakeholders

We alluded to this factor in the earlier section, but it’s important to state that bringing together stakeholders such as your leadership team is an ongoing effort and not a one-time exercise.

Driving a successful IT strategy for your business’ digital transformation is reliant on open communication between operational teams, managers, and the IT department.  This helps gather information and glean insights about prevailing IT realities, relevant trends, and potential needs.

For example, your IT department isn’t involved with the day-to-day running of business units such as customer support or outbound sales. If their mission-critical software is buggy or the hardware tools they use to conduct business faulty, your IT department will only find out if they are told about it explicitly.

Getting an operational view of your IT requirements help develop long-term plans, identify existing weaknesses, and build upon existing strengths. 

IT Strategy for Business

3. Examine Your Current IT Infrastructure

While IT solutions are critical for driving value, innovation, and cross-functional business operations, you should first take a step back and examine whether your existing infrastructure is optimized to your business objectives. 

This starts by identifying what’s working and what’s not, and leveraging solutions that best suit your current and future needs. For example, if your current infrastructure is struggling with tracking devices, you can propose a software upgrade for asset management purposes. 

It may also necessitate small tweaks to your business plan in order to meet overall business goals. 

4. Design a Framework for Employee Training 

You might be surprised to hear this, but the fact is that your own employees are the weakest link in the chain when it comes to enterprise cybersecurity. The only way to address this is to ensure that your staff is up-to-date with cybersecurity best practices and ways to avoid a breach.

Employee training should be part of the onboarding process for each new employee. It should also be conducted at regular intervals so that existing staff members are brought up to par.

Whether you’re a small business or a larger enterprise, it’s important to ensure that all your staff members are on the same page. So when there are system upgrades such as those to your enterprise architecture or company-wide rollouts of new software, the business leaders can’t take a passive approach.

An essential part of any IT strategy is ongoing employee training and upskilling. We mentioned earlier how that’s crucial for cybersecurity, but it’s also equally important for additions and/or changes to your IT environment.

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5. Keep Updating your IT Strategy and Revise

An IT strategy isn’t a static endeavor. Evaluate the outcomes of major IT programs against the benchmarks you initially set with your stakeholders using data-driven metrics to verify the efficacy of your approach.

If there is a discrepancy between the primary goals and actual outcomes, then that might signal a problem with IT strategy and planning itself. Hence, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and revise your strategy.

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

IT strategy projects may not always deliver the business success you expected. Very few organizations have developed an IT strategy as a one-time guiding principle and stuck to it for several years without any significant changes. 

The fact is that 89% of businesses believe their IT budgets will remain steady or grow in the next year, and updating outdated IT infrastructure will be the biggest driver of the strategic planning process.

That’s why you need to develop a business IT strategy that works for your firm. As your business grows, so will your IT requirements, triggering the need to take IT strategy and planning seriously.