Learn how to make effective IT strategic planning
With the advancement of digital transformation and the wide use of other disruptive tools, such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, the management of technological processes in business is gaining more and more relevance.
Now, more than at any other time, companies need to build an IT strategic plan so they know exactly how they will position themselves in a highly competitive market.
Technology does not stop evolving. Therefore, the best way to try to keep up with this pace is to prioritize the construction of an IT strategic plan that is constantly monitored, evaluated and improved, following the market dynamics.
In this article, we show why IT planning has become critical to a company's performance and success.
Understand why today's IT strategic planning process must be seen in much more depth. Keep reading the article!
Strategic planning: presenting the concept
Planning is the process of documenting and setting a direction for your company or industry, assessing where you are and where you are going.
Generally, in its structure, the strategic plan highlights the company's mission, vision and values, as well as its long-term goals, highlighting the action plans that will be used to achieve those goals.
A well-designed strategic plan can play a fundamental role in the growth and success of a company, because it tells the manager and employees the best way to respond to opportunities and challenges.
Despite the many benefits of having a strategic plan in place, a growing number of company managers are not focusing on the long-term strategies of their business.
According to data from a 2018 Constant Contact survey of 1,005 small business owners, 63% said they plan just a year (or less) in advance.
The fact is that the future success of a company depends on effective strategic planning. It's about looking to the future of your business, thinking about the level of corporate maturity you are looking to achieve.
In short, strategic planning consists of analyzing the business and setting realistic goals and objectives. In this way, it is possible to prepare a formal document that presents the company's visions and goals for the future and guides the team's performance.
Importance of strategic IT planning
Far beyond providing hardware and software to support other areas, the IT area works focused on defining and delivering appropriate technological processes for the company. In the current context, new technologies are increasingly becoming the core of the company.
After all, it is market disruptive innovations that make a company create and conquer new markets. Hence the importance of having a current IT strategic plan geared towards advancing the digital transformation.
In practice, the IT strategic planning process can take some time, but it is extremely beneficial for everyone involved.
Whether for the company manager, the information technology leader or professionals, IT planning provides a clearer idea of the goals and objectives you want to achieve and a path to do so.
For employees, the process can promote an increase in productivity, contributing to the success of the business.
5 benefits of strategic IT planning
When the manager decides to invest in the construction of an IT strategic plan, the technology sector and the company can obtain a series of advantages. Below, we list the main ones:
1- Increase productivity
By involving professionals in the IT planning process, they are given a sense of responsibility that can increase productivity.
If they contributed to the process or were informed of business goals and objectives after the strategic plan was created, they are more likely to work towards those goals.
2- Identify strengths and weaknesses
As part of the IT strategic planning process, the manager and his team must analyze the entire technology structure of the business. Thus, it will be possible to identify what the sector does well and in which demands it still needs to improve.
The process of mapping the strengths and weaknesses of the technology area offers professionals the opportunity to continuously improve the corporate IT structure, ensuring the accessibility and availability of services, as well as minimizing risks.
Always remember to involve professionals in IT strategic planning. They can contribute a different vision and innovative ideas. Also, collaborative planning makes a lot more sense.
3- Defines the direction of the business and promotes a proactive business
By the end of IT planning, you and the professionals should have a clear direction on the future of the enterprise technology area of the business.
The assessments, analysis, discussions and the planning process itself help put the company in the best position, with the ideal technology to be successful in the future.
IT strategic planning allows the sector to identify how to support the company so that it can grow in the coming years and how to deal with new opportunities and challenges.
Consider the challenges or problems the company may face in four or five years and plan accordingly so that IT can deliver what the company needs in technology to grow.
4- Avoid recurring IT problems
There are many IT problems that can affect the routine of professionals in the company, such as:
• program failures;
• system unavailability;
• server downtimes;
• data leakage.
Furthermore, these issues compromise the user experience, leaving customers dissatisfied with the quality of service provided.
This scenario is everything that the technology manager and the company do not want. The good news is that the IT strategic plan offers the advantage of preventing the recurrence of this type of problem. After all, any kind of gap is mapped and, as a result, it already receives a resolving approach.
An IT strategic plan delivers value to the business as it resolves issues with speed, preventing lost customers and even bigger issues such as fines for data leakage.
5- Increases digital maturity
The practice of IT planning promotes a movement of constant evaluation of the performance of the technology sector and the company's potential for innovation.
In this way, it becomes easier to establish a continuous flow of improvements and investments in new tools, solutions, systems and equipment.
From software to hardware, including other core strategies like cybersecurity and IT risk management, a good IT strategic plan results in digital maturity for the company.
When to do strategic IT planning?
Scheduling the IT strategic planning process is highly dependent on the nature and needs of your organization.
For example, if your business environment changes quickly, the IT strategic plan needs to be revised and updated. In this case, the ideal is to run it at least once a year.
Generally, strategic planning should be prepared:
• In the development of a new business model;
• When creating new solutions, such as launching a product;
• Faced with changes in the markets;
• Against a backdrop of changes in the business environment, such as changes in legislation, regulations and industry best practices.
6 Steps to Building Strategic IT Planning
As we have seen so far, the design of an IT strategic plan generates a series of benefits for the organization. Above all, it guarantees that the company will have the necessary resources to enable the digital transformation of the business in times of innovation and process modernization.
But, after all, how to lead the elaboration of an IT strategic plan?
Several methodologies can guide the manager on this journey. Here, we list the six main steps to building effective planning.
1- Overview of the planning process
At this stage, leaders of the IT planning process must define a long-term vision and create a mission statement.
This shows where you want to go and how it relates to the organization's strategic objectives.
2- Long-term vision of the company
It is important to analyze the technological and human resources that the company already has. In addition, it is necessary to know the market trends and the future technological environment where the organization intends to achieve its planning objectives.
Otherwise, still at this stage, try to define the strategic guidelines and tangible goals you want to achieve.
3- Definition of GAPs in the IT strategic process
Assess the current state of all the company's systems, processes and technology assets. Compare the structure to the long-term business perspectives defined in the previous steps.
Identify IT gaps, resources and processes and, from there, develop and indicate the necessary strategic actions.
4- Schedules and budget
One of the steps in the IT strategic plan is the definition of schedules and budgets.
With the actions defined, at last, it's time to build an effective IT strategic plan, including:
• development of priorities;
• project implementation roadmap;
• investment plan.
5- Implementation of the IT strategic plan process
Based on what the IT sector has defined and considering the business objectives, the organization can make many decisions to achieve the agreed objectives.
Generally, implementing the IT strategic plan includes:
• vendor and software selection;
• systems integration;
• hardware acquisition
Among other actions.
At the end of the IT strategic planning implementation process, it is necessary to evaluate the results and compare them with the organizational objectives defined in the previous phases. This will help determine whether the planning and its implementation were as successful as expected.
In the organizational context, prioritizing IT strategic planning is the best way to support business strategy, control costs, manage risk, and clarify the benefits that IT initiatives provide to the business as well as to end users.