At some point you have probably heard the quote, ‘If you fail to plan you are planning to fail’. And with that individuals create goals and plans for their careers, life, vacations and companies create corporate strategies, annual plans and budgets etc.
However, how often does a company create a strategy for Information Technology. I’m not talking about an IT budget although there are plenty of companies that don’t even have those. An IT budget just defines how much of the corporate funds that IT department is allowed to spend and on what products/services. What I am referring to is a strategy on how the company will utilize information technology to create competitive advantage, to open new markets, to brand the company and to support the operations of the business.
What do I mean by an IT Strategy or IT Roadmap?
An IT strategy or IT Roadmap is a detail plan that defines how and where information technology will be utilized in the company. It identifies areas where management believes IT can be used to:
- Improve productivity and reduce cost
- Create a competitive advantage
- Improve intra-company communication and cooperation
- Improve financial controls
- Increase market share and open new markets
- Provide new opportunities for customers, partners and vendors to interact with the company
It defines the priorities of the opportunities/initiatives, assigns responsibility/ownership and defines date and timeframe for each initiative.
Like most plans it should encompass both short term and long term goals. So it should include a vision of what the company would look like with all the desired functionality implemented over a 5 year time frame. Then each initiative should be prioritized and placed on a 5 year, 3 year or 1 year schedule. Finally a detailed 18 month plan should be defined that includes initiatives, projects, timelines and estimate cost and resources.
Why do I need to have an IT strategy or IT roadmap?
IT is no longer just about how to document the business transactions so it can be accurately reported to the IRS, the bank and other outside entities that need a picture of the financial status of the company.
IT impacts every part of the business. As a result there are many competing priorities from all areas of the company. At one time accounting was the primary consumer of IT services, however, today IT touches everyone in the company, customers, vendors and partners. So needs must be assessed, solutions identified, costs estimated and priorities set for all those competing interests. In addition a path needs to be defined on how to get from where you are to where the company wants to be. One of Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits is ‘First Things First’. This is critical to define in an IT strategy. Every IT initiative requires infrastructure, systems, and resources. If those are not addressed in the correct or most logical order, the result is a failed and/or significantly over budget project. A good IT strategy will define prerequisites and enable you to put the initiatives in the correct order for success.
To get more information regarding creating an IT Strategy, contact Lynda at 818-709-6583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org