When you work with a new IT company or start having internal discussions about IT, one of the first questions you will hear is; What is our IT strategy?
Having a clear, comprehensive IT strategy is becoming increasingly crucial to support overall business plans and processes. In fact, many large companies are now basing much of their future planning around technology and where they see their IT systems developing. A good IT strategy can inform many other parts of your business planning and help give you a strong foundation on which your business can grow and develop.
If you don’t understand IT strategies, want to know how they help, and why you need to take them seriously, we’ve covered the basics below. If you want an in-depth discussion to help create a personalised IT strategy, get in touch with one of our team today.
What is an IT strategy?
An IT strategy, sometimes called an IT roadmap or IT transformation plan, is a detailed, well-thought-out blueprint of how technology fits into, supports, and hinders your business, as well as providing detailed technical solutions and objectives for the future.
Your IT strategy should make it clear where IT needs to be improved or changed and should set out how this will happen and what these changes mean for day-to-day processes. IT is effectively a written plan of how technology and IT will help your business.
Many people call this an IT roadmap because, like standard road maps, it should take you through every step of the journey until you reach your destination. Transformation is also a common term to describe an IT strategy because most strategies include new technology and require change or transformation.
Key elements of a basic IT strategy
One of the major mistakes we often see businesses make is to have only a vague or overly-generalised IT strategy. A typical IT strategy should be as detailed and comprehensive as possible.
It should include everything from the need for a specific software model to the roll-out implementation, how supporting systems must adapt, and how staff will be trained to use the new systems. It should have budget allocations and should delegate tasks to specific employees, as well as show governance and compliance and detail potential future problems.
In general, the more detailed a strategy is, the better it can be implemented and the higher the chance of successfully achieving the goals set out in the document. An IT strategic plan should include:
One of the first things to establish is how you see technology and IT in the future. What do you want IT to do, how should it work for you, and what is your overall mission? These questions should be the first part of a technology strategy as they will guide everything else.
Step-by-step action plan
This document is not just strategy; it should include a breakdown of exactly how you plan to achieve your business goals. This roadmap includes everything from training staff on how to make the most of IT and software management and updates to implementing new operating models and changing how technology is used.
Alignment with business objections
It’s easy to get carried away investing in technology trends, but you need to be sure that what you are doing supports your overall business plan. You need to strategise how technology fits into your business so it doesn’t become more important than your original business objectives.
Whatever your IT strategy is, it needs to be framed within financial investment and restrictions. Setting a clear budget from the start will help ensure you don’t overspend.
Technology can help to give you a competitive edge. Understanding how your competitors use technology and where they are failing can ensure that your plans help give you an advantage.
Monitoring and analysis
Technology changes fast, and new threats are constantly evolving, so you need to ensure that once new systems of software are in place, you are continually checking to ensure it is protected, working efficiently, and aligned with your aims. IT needs to be maintained, not just implemented, using both internal and external analysis.
Compliance and governance
Your IT needs to stay on the right side of regulations, legal restrictions, and specific compliance rules. You need to identify problems and ascertain how to ensure you don’t come up short from day one or you risk facing serious legal issues.
Technology needs to work together as part of your business’s infrastructure as well as working independently. You need to consider connections, communication, and integration, or you’ll end up with separate systems that don’t work together as a whole.
Every company should have its own unique IT strategy. Even within an industry, your strategy should differ from your competitors. Your company has its own business goals, issues to overcome, and various assets, so your IT strategy should take all this into account and be a reflection of your current business and add business value.
Why do we need an IT strategy?
With so much to include in an IT strategy document, it might seem like a lot of work and research just to update your IT systems. But a comprehensive Information Technology strategy is much more than that and offers a huge range of benefits.
Here’s what an IT strategy can do for your business:
Risk Management and Increase Security
One of the biggest threats to IT is cybercriminal attacks. An IT strategy should include plans to monitor and mitigate risky situations so you don’t have emergency IT Support issues. A good strategy allows you to prepare for change and guarantee everything runs smoothly to avoid data breaches and ensure systems don’t shut down when needed.
Technology is continually changing, with new software being released yearly. Many companies want the latest releases and end up spending a fortune on new technology they may not even need. With a plan in place, you can spend money in the right areas and save where you may not need to make changes. The result is that you can manage costs and will save money in the long run.
One of the main benefits of having a clearly defined IT strategy is to ensure that you are using your technological assets to complement your business strategy. Using your IT properly and maximising its usefulness can give you a competitive edge and help your business grow.
Create Your IT Strategy With Help From A Professional
Of course, creating an IT strategy isn’t always easy. Many businesses choose to hire managed service providers to help with the creation of the initial document. Not only does working with professionals give you access to the latest knowledge and skills, but using an outside company can give a fresh perspective for a more effective, objective approach.
For help creating an IT strategy, get in touch today, and one of our experts can help you plan for a better future.