IT Strategic Planning
Most IT organizations create strategic plans, but few see real returns from the work they put in to conducting strategic planning efforts. Nearly 75% of business leaders lack confidence in their organizations’ ability to execute on strategy, and IT strategic plans often end up gathering dust on a shelf.
Organizations that create effective IT strategic plans ensure those plans have four attributes. These plans are:
1. Aligned with broader enterprise goals
IT plans should help the organization achieve its top-line strategic objectives. In order to do this, IT must start its planning efforts with a clear understanding of the enterprise strategic plan. The best IT organizations interview business partners and map the IT implications of business goals to ensure that IT plans are aligned to the company’s overall objectives.
2. Responsive to changes in business needs and conditions
Business needs and conditions do not remain static across a year, so even the best designed IT strategic plans can quickly become outdated if they are not responsive to internal or external changes. Leading IT organizations review strategic plans on a regular basis across the year, and also establish trigger points when the strategy’s underlying assumptions have changed enough to merit a review (e.g. significant M&A activity).
3. Prioritized, rather than a “laundry list” of activities
Strategic plans should set priorities for the year ahead so that resources can be appropriately allocated, but many IT strategic plans simply provide a list of projects or activities that IT will complete. The best IT organizations conduct prioritization exercises with business leaders to identify and force-rank the most important initiatives, allowing IT to focus greater time and resources on priorities that provide greatest value for the enterprise.
4. Designed for IT and business stakeholders
IT strategic plans do not exist in a vacuum. Both IT and business stakeholders will be impacted by and expected to execute on those plans. Leading IT organizations not only plan the strategy, but also carefully consider how they will communicate it to stakeholders to win support and improve their ability to execute.