IT Strategic Planning
by Ron Raumer
develop an IT strategic plan?
More is being
spent on information technology today they ever before.
Companies are combining business strategy and Internet technologies to create
innovative Web 2.0 strategies, new business models and sophisticated systems.
The burgeoning number and dizzying array of technology
solutions are being networked together, interfaced to legacy system and now
linked via Intranets and the Internet to partners, suppliers and customers.
But are these organizations
getting their money’s worth? In these difficult economic times, executives are
seeking the answer to this question and several others:
How can we ensure that our
use of information technology is aligned with our business strategies, goals
Is IT contributing
significant value to the business?
Which of the profusion of
information technologies and architectural choices should we select?
What technologies do we need
to maintain competitiveness?
How much should we spend on
What are our technology
priorities and how should we allocate resources?
How do we coordinate
technology across the organization?
How should our technology function be organized and
With an enterprise information technology strategy and information
architectures an organization can answer these questions and effectively use its
IT investment in people, organization, skills, processes, and information
technology to contribute to achieving its business goals, rather than working at
IT Strategic Planning Service
R&A Information Technology Strategic Planning Service addresses these questions
through a practical proven three-phased approach:
we want to go?
How do we get there?
use a process consulting orientation to guide our clients through the three
We emphasize client participation throughout by utilizing
structured workshops as the primary forum for developing the strategy.
The workshops promote organizational learning and
they build team consensus in the construction of the strategy and momentum
toward its deployment.
Highlights of the R&A approach follow:
1 - Where are we today?
we gain an understanding of the organization’s current internal information
We do this by answering the following questions: How
well do current applications, hardware and networks support the business? Is the
structure, staffing and skills appropriate to meet the information technology
needs of the organization?
Are the IT management and business processes
adequate? What are our guiding principles with regard to IT decision-making?
Are the IT expenditures appropriate?
Trends and Competitors
we understand the organization’s internal IT capabilities we look externally.
What are the IT trends?
How are our competitors using IT?
And how do we compare?
Can we gain a competitive advantage through the use
Are we headed in the same direction as our industry and, if
2 - Where do we want to go?
Business Context - Current and Future
The next step has nothing directly to do with information
technology, but it is critical nonetheless.
In this step we develop an understanding the current
and future desired state of the business.
This is done at a high level identifying only the
key elements which have significance in crafting the IT strategy.
It may include understanding the business mission,
vision, objectives, critical success factors, and business processes.
In some organizations the current and future state
is well understood and documented, in others it is not documented but implicit
in the plans and actions of the enterprise, and in some it must be constructed.
The future business state becomes the focus for and
“drives” the entire IT strategy.
this step we identify potential uses for the deployment of IT throughout the
enterprise which support getting to the future business state.
These include opportunities for implementing new
application systems and information technologies that often replace existing
In addition, it may include opportunities to enhance the IT
infrastructure of networks, servers and client workstations.
Strategy, Principles and Information Architectures
difference between current IT capabilities (Where we are today) and the future
desired business state (Where we want to go) is the gap.
The IT strategy is developed to close the gap
between capabilities and opportunities.
We identify the few significant IT strategic
directions that the organization will emphasize and focus on in order to close
also develop high-level information architectures or blueprints for the future
deployment of integrated applications, databases and technologies.
This step includes defining IT principles that the
organization will use as a guide in making future IT decisions.
We use the following definition of strategy from the
writings of James Brian Quinn of Dartmouth
strategy is a plan that integrates an organization’s major actions into a
A strategy allocates an organization’s resources
into a unique and viable posture based on relative internal strengths and
weaknesses, anticipated changes in the external environment and contingent moves
3 - How do we get there?
the gap requires developing a transition plan of projects and resources and a
change management program.
transition plan is developed by defining the initiatives, the projects and the
resources necessary for successfully implementing the strategy. It uses the
opportunities identified in Phase 2 as a basis. The initiatives and projects to
be undertaken are prioritized and scheduled over the planning horizon, using an
agreed upon set of evaluation criteria. Initiatives and projects typically
involve implementing new or replacement software applications and often also
include IT infrastructure projects such as upgrading networks, servers or other
Change Management Program
a change management program is developed. It describes the actions required to
change the capabilities of IT as necessary to close the gap. Changes may be
required to the IT organizational structure, staffing levels, skill sets, levels
of outsourcing, IT business processes or even to the IT values, mission and
addition, a change management plan is developed to communicate the changes to
those impacted and to involve them directly in the change process. This helps
those in the organization absorb the change, it lessens resistance and it builds
support and momentum toward successfully implementing of the strategy.
then is a match of what an organization “can do” versus what it “might do”.
Strategy closes the gap between where we are today
and where we want to be.
If the gap is not closed, the result will be missed
opportunities, unrealized expectations, wasted resources and frustrated users
and IT staff. So the benefits of an IT strategy are that it:
Provides a roadmap for
closing the gap and getting us to where we want to be
the IT function with the business direction in three ways
through coordination, perseverance and concentration of IT effort toward
a shared set of business goals and objectives,
Aligns IT with the needs of its customers and stakeholders
Aligns the uses and directions of IT by each department with each other.
Builds consensus and
commitment to the plan because all key stakeholders -- departments and IT
staff -- are involved in the process,
Enables IT to make a “strategic” contribution to the
business; positions IT to make a significant
impact on the company’s key strategic
an IT strategic planning mindset into the company’s culture, and
Builds momentum toward
implementing the plan and realizing the intended value from IT.
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