IT Strategy, why it’s important
Surprisingly many companies do not have an IT strategy, other than keeping what they have working at minimal cost. A common misconception is that IT is simply a service and does not need a strategy.
However, the truth is IT strategy is first and foremost not about IT at all. It’s about your business, your business processes and the future direction of the organisation. Talk of IT and IT related issues are only the final stages of constructing a strategy. How your business works and how it intends to grow and/or gain competitive advantage in the coming years are by far the bigger factors than any technical solution in itself.
Not having an IT strategy as part of your overall business strategy potentially misses out on the incredible advantage effective use of IT brings. Specifically, in streamlining operations and driving your business forward by going far beyond the day to day.
A good IT strategy project roughly comprises the following stages;
Phase one of an effective IT strategy looks incisively at all key business activities such as processes (order taking, dispatch, data capture, management reporting etc) both manual and automatic to ensure they are as efficient as possible. IT is ideally placed to bring economies in process, increase the speed of business, reduce costs and help build and retain customers, just by doing what you already do, but better.
Phase two of an effective IT strategy looks to the future, what is the company aiming to achieve and what part can IT play in meeting and exceeding those expectations. Perhaps by scaling up to handle more customers or locations, reaching new markets, creating new customer touch points or methods of delivery.
Phase three brings in the IT contribution. Future thinking IT specialists can offer new avenues or capabilities that the other departments may not even know was possible.
Phase four summarizes the above requirements into a future vision and draws up the human and computational resources required to meet the agreed vision.
Phase five reviews the current IT provision. Only at this stage is the strategy work starting to look at IT itself. We have a 25-step process for reviewing IT provision. (incidentally we offer this as a stand-alone service too). This is an assessment covering the key topics of resourcing, process, service, infrastructure, governance and supplier relationships.
The next stage is relatively straightforward. The IT strategy is built from the building blocks of what would be required to take the IT department from where it stands today in Phase five, to where it needs to be as identified in Phase four.
Then the tricky bit. Changes take time to implement, have pre-requisites, they invariably cost money and bring risk. The skillsets you need to effect change may well vary as the project progresses. Sometimes choosing what not to do comprise the biggest decisions. Compiling the three facets of people, process and technology into a timely, affordable plan of action agreed by stakeholders gives you your IT strategy.
If this sounds more than you reckoned, speak to us, we have created winning strategies for companies ranging from 20 employees to 10,000 employees.