How could 300 Spartans hold off the might of the Persian army at Thermopylae? How could a hugely outnumbered Roman army annihilate the British tribes under Boudica at the battle of Watling Street? One of the great lessons of history is the importance of strategy. Strength in numbers alone is rarely enough.
It’s the same in information technology. Consider the billions of dollars and millions of man-hours spent each year by organizations trying to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and gain a competitive advantage. It is clear that some invest more wisely than others. Those who succeed follow a clear-cut strategic direction and prioritize their activities accordingly.
What Is a Strategic Plan in Information Technology?
Strategic planning is a high-leverage organizational strategy used in small and large companies across nearly all professional sectors.1 In IT, this cannot be done in isolation. The IT manager or chief information officer must develop their plan based on the strategic plan of the organization as a whole. After all, IT is there to serve the business.
The goal of IT strategic planning is to align the IT team with the desires of the organization. For example, if the business is attempting to establish a massive sales and distribution network, it wouldn’t make sense for IT to focus on a two-year server and PC upgrade program across the entire enterprise. Instead, IT should formulate a plan that helps the organization as a whole achieve its objectives.
If sales personnel spend too much time devising proposals, itemizing orders, and writing invoices, for instance, IT could figure out a system that automates and simplifies the process, thereby saving substantial amounts of time. But IT strategic planning could go beyond that to determine what data the sales staff really need and then streamline the underlying database structure so that they get that data in real time, not several days later.
Developing the Strategic Plan for a Business
The decision makers in an organization are generally the ones who participate in strategic planning. Determining who is in charge of what is a big task in and of itself and shouldn't be taken lightly. Often, it's wise to give this responsibility to a smaller group such as an executive board.2
Sound strategic planning doesn’t take things for granted. Too often, organizations settle on a budget for a particular thing and do not update it for years. Such thinking may cripple planning by saddling it with outdated and inaccurate budgeting.
Therefore, it is important to review existing IT costs, compare those costs against other companies in a similar field, and look at ways to reduce costs when devising an IT strategic plan. Alternatively, be receptive to new ways of looking at things. Perhaps a junior team member has an idea on how to switch to a different approach that will slash costs and increase functionality.
Demand for Strategic Information Technology Skill Sets
Those are a few key points to bear in mind when devising an IT strategic plan. The plan itself should be concise, with easily understandable objectives that help a business accomplish its goals.
It takes real know-how to develop such a strategic plan. Companies are searching for IT executives with the business, technology, and planning savvy necessary to think, plan, and act strategically. They are seeking individuals with a skill set that goes beyond that of the typical computer science or business graduate degree.
For example, Georgetown University offers a unique graduate degree with its Master’s in Information Technology Management program, either online or on campus. For more information, call (855) 725-7622 today.
- "What is Strategic Planning: A Definition," Indeed. Retrieved on March 8, 2022 from What is Strategic Planning: A Definition.
- "Strategic Planning: Why it Makes a Difference, and How to Do It," PMC. Retrieved on March 8, 2022 from Strategic Planning: Why It Makes a Difference, and How to Do It - PMC.