Technology is everywhere – but is it delivering what you need to drive your business? Do you need to plan how different IT systems and tools will work in your business?
Businesses large and small need a technology strategy – a roadmap that clarifies how different systems can integrate into useful tools for everyone – staff, clients and customers.
Whether you are developing a technology strategy for a large multi-location enterprise, or a single program or business unit, there are a few basic and proven principles that you should apply. ICT should first and foremost support your primary business purpose and allow your everyday business processes to be delivered with quality and efficiency, so your strategy needs to reflect that.
This isn’t about following a template, or just changing a few names and dates on a strategy you picked up from someone else. It’s about embedding your strategy in the context of the business you are trying to deliver, to arrive at a strategy and action plan that supports your organisation’s information and technology needs, as well as being meaningful to your staff, vendors, partners – even your customers.
Our tips will guide you through how to harness technology, rather than being a slave to it. Use the following 6 tips to develop your technology strategy, and you will have a strategy that everyone will understand and work to achieve.
- Understand your business
If you understand your business then you will understand your technology needs. Any ICT strategy must be based firstly on your organisation’s business outcomes. What are the priorities for the business you need to deliver, to keep your customers happy?
- Make sure you prioritise the services and products that your customers – both current ones and future new customers – value the most.
Your ICT strategic plan should enable business to be delivered today, and provide a platform to develop new and improved business outcomes in the future.
- Review your enterprise architecture
Once you know what business and services you need to deliver, you can look at your existing technology and tools, assess how well they can do the job, and what gaps may exist. Develop an architecture blueprint and road map to document the path and steps to achieve any new strategy.
What’s that you say, you don’t have a current enterprise architecture blueprint? That doesn’t mean you should miss this step, it just means you might need to dig a bit deeper to find the information you need.
- What are your technology investments actually worth?
- Do you have the applications, development tools, and ICT infrastructure to support the business priorities?
- What about capacity to handle increased volumes of traffic?
Pick out the parts of your technology mix that are relevant, and identify the parts you need to rebuild/update. Don’t forget to consider your existing information holdings – you don’t want to lose your information base about your customers!
- Take advantage of technology innovation, where it supports your business objectives
This doesn’t mean that you should go and buy the latest gizmos on the market, but technology just keeps on surprising us. For example, the cost of cloud hosting is continually going down and the maturity of cloud provider offerings is improving. So maybe the decision on whether to ‘go cloud or not’ will give a different answer for your circumstances, than it would have even 6 months ago.
- Have a look at what’s out there and identify technology options that align with your proposed business strategy, but don’t rush your decisions – just arm yourself with knowledge for the next step.
- Envision your target state
Now that you understand your current state, and where you are heading, identify what needs to be done to transition to your target state. It might be business processes, it might be new technology, or a mix of both. We all need to know where we are heading for, and this is no different.
But don’t stop now. Now you can document the objectives and actions needed to achieve your strategy.
- How will you know when you get there? Identify the success factors that you and others will be measured by.
- Understand how the technologies and business processes will be used and identify what the change management implications are for the organisation.
- Model and plan transition and implementation strategies with end users and affected staff.
- Identify the costs and benefits
Need to get the bean counters in? Well maybe. But the strategy isn’t going to get support from your execs unless you can tell the CFO/CEO what’s in it for them. And for your own benefit, you need to be sure that the objectives in your strategy are going to be worth the money to be spent on them. Don’t forget that it’s not just technical costs:
- Make sure you measure the costs and benefits in terms of people, processes, business outcomes, and ongoing costs.
- You may also be able to identify cost savings and efficiencies flowing from your initiatives.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate!
With stakeholders at various levels right throughout the process – through facilitated workshops, to-be modelling, options development and analysis, presentation and review of draft strategies. Involve people across the organisation in the development of your strategy and subsequent plans – be open to ideas from across the organisation, and revel in the diversity they offer you. Win friends and influence people – and be influenced by others. That way you’ll end up with strategies and plans that others will support for you, and those success factors will be so much easier to reach.
Remember to track lessons learned and feedback from staff during all phases of this process. Please share this blog with your colleagues and network. These are the 6 tips we recommend, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.