Many of us have been involved with a business where technology was a mishmash of apps, logins, vendors and devices – and that is just on the front end.
Creating a long-term IT strategy that aligns with business goals, delivers the solutions your team needs to be productive, and supports an exceptional customer experience is not an easy task.
Many companies follow the “put out the fire” approach to hardware and software planning rather than treating technology investments as a requisite of their success in both the near and long term.
But what is an IT strategy, and why does your business need one? In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of developing an IT strategy, and how having one in place puts you on a clearly defined path to success.
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You may be wondering, “What is an IT strategy?” It’s a comprehensive, clear, high-level blueprint for how technology investments will support business objectives both long and short term.
This strategic roadmap should start with an audit of current information technology solutions throughout your business environment, from devices to network infrastructure, software to access control, cybersecurity to video surveillance.
From there, you will need to identify current gaps in your solution stack and then consider urgent and future needs.
Your budget will also be part of the discussion throughout the strategic planning process, along with security, compliance and user experience considerations.
Involving key stakeholders along the way will create much-needed buy-in for both the processes and the required investments.
As mentioned above, many businesses select and buy technology solutions only when something is on fire or broken.
That piecemeal approach to IT investments often lacks cohesion and can cost significantly more money, not to mention leaving a business with a disjointed, ineffective technology stack.
IT plays a pivotal role in day-to-day operations and long-term goals and therefore must be aligned with business objectives. A good IT strategy isn’t just about money; it’s about user experience, customer satisfaction, and having the right tools to support a high-performance business.
Creating an IT strategy can eliminate operational bottlenecks, improve productivity, support scale and ensure you are getting the most from the technology investments you are making. It focuses on what’s important and required, not just what is an urgent need right now.
When you start thinking about developing an IT strategy, you’ll be mapping out a vision for your technology as a driver in your business, including technology infrastructure, software, devices, processes and policies, training and more.
A thoughtfully planned technology plan delivers efficient, effective solutions that drastically improve IT capabilities. Remember, your IT strategy isn’t tactical or focused on execution; it is the high-level plan that will guide those smaller, specific, targeted projects and investments.
Just as your business strategy covers multiple aspects of running a company, so will your IT strategy.
A solid strategic plan includes all facets of technology – management, budget, human resources, hardware and software purchases and management, policies and processes – and will balance gap analysis and optimization of current technology solutions with an eye toward technology trends and future needs.
The strategy plan should also be flexible, just as business goals evolve according to both internal and external circumstances, so must your roadmap.
What is your alternative for technology if you can’t hire the right people, or your sales drag (or explode) and your budget shifts?
Many businesses had to react quickly when COVID hit in 2020, forcing a fast pivot to work-from-home, and an agile IT strategy can adjust to those types of unforeseen situations.
Lastly, as with any plan, a process for continuously reviewing, revamping and measuring the effectiveness of your strategy through key metrics should be included in your strategy documentation.
Taking the time to routinely re-evaluate will ensure you are not missing opportunities to tweak or correct your plan.
The first step in developing an IT strategy is a clear understanding of your business objectives and where and how technology aligns with your overarching company strategy.
For example, if earning a 100% NPS score by dazzling customers with seamless service is your top goal, then start your strategic planning by understanding where IT can and will play a role in that goal, and then exploring options, challenges, and budget.
When developing an IT strategy, other key steps to success include:
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Taking the time, and having the knowledge, to develop an IT strategy – and then successfully execute it – is often beyond the experience level of small to midsize business leadership teams.
While the goal of IT strategic planning is to break free from a day-to-day focus and think critically, that task can be difficult for businesses that may simply be too busy.
Partnering with a trusted managed IT services partner can provide guidance. Not only can an MSP advise about policies, products, vendors, budgets, and trends, but they can manage day-to-day operations while also guiding you through technology’s role in your long-term overall business strategy.
Exigent Technologies relies on more than 300 years of collective technology expertise when it advises its managed services clients on creating an IT development strategy.
By serving as your company’s virtual IT department and virtual CIO, Exigent can balance your current needs with a vision for the future.
Start your journey to a better future for your business today by developing an IT strategy that will align with business objectives. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reach your long-term goals.