Given the real constraints of time, resources, and energy of your business, the IT projects of some departments will lose out to those of others when they’re put in a cage match. However, choosing wrongly could prove to be a huge, costly mistake that only reveals itself slowly over time. This is why you need a big-picture technology plan, and it should be solid right from the start. Before a line of code is written, make sure you know the challenges of creating a strategic technology plan, as well as how to succeed in every one of them.
You’re not an IT person
Senior management understands business strategy and objectives, but the world of IT is often a mystery. From database to networking, business intelligence to infrastructure, these areas can be overwhelming, especially when they don’t appear to have a direct influence on your business’s objectives.
To do strategic IT planning properly, you need the assistance of IT professionals who know the ins and outs of IT environments. The roles of IT pros could vary as well. Some responsibilities of an IT professional include:
- System administrator
- Network engineer
- Web developer
- Computer systems analyst
- IT security
- Cloud architect
These are just a few primary roles and more roles are added as the technology landscape evolves.
How to do it right: Partner with an experienced managed IT services provider (MSP) that can guide you and help you develop a comprehensive technology plan. A good MSP will not just provide solutions but will sit with you and help you identify problematic areas of your systems to come up with suitable ideas and solutions across your IT functions.
Biases can come into play when implementing your strategic IT plan internally. For example, the strategic objectives and technology drivers of a particular assignee who has worked in a handful of different environments can often be biased based on their personal experience.
How to do it right: Since MSPs are independent providers, they have no biases that can skew the allocation of IT resources. Resource allocation is purely based on business requirements. Because every organization has a unique set of requirements, it’s crucial to understand the needs of each area and function. You can then base your strategic IT plan on these specific needs.
Failing to prioritize
It’s easy to get inundated with many different projects. For example, it might be unclear which IT project on the list should get finished on time, and with factors like skills and resource shortage, these projects could go haywire or kaput. Additionally, if the project becomes more costly than it was forecasted, the next one could be less funded.
How to do it right: You need to narrow down your list of IT priorities, then create a short list to work with. Here are five easy steps:
- Prioritize based on business value
- Identify time-sensitive and critical projects
- Assess your own bandwidth
- Learn to say no to projects
- Be firm but flexible
Long-term and complex projects fail to live up to their promises and produce disappointing outcomes on completion. These ultimately spell disaster for future technology plans. While you might have built a solid plan with real targets and milestones, you might have the wrong people to execute these plans, or worse, you might have incorrectly earmarked your resources such as budget and solutions.
In any case, whether it’s the lack of leadership or accountability or gaps in communication, you can mitigate these failures by seeking help from IT professionals.
How to do it right: Strategic planning must be focused and should include a manageable number of goals and objectives, under a realistic timeline. Also be prepared to assign more adequate resources to accomplish your targets in the outlined plan.
It’s inevitable that you’ll face many challenges when implementing a strategic IT plan. The complexity and unpredictability of technologies and trends make things even harder when it comes to planning because some organizations, especially small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), have limited visibility into their IT resources. There’s usually a lack of understanding of what the departments currently use, and why and where their tech falls short. This makes it difficult for them to take advantage of market opportunities.
It’s not enough to know what your weaknesses are. And remember, no matter how well you prepare, you’re bound to encounter challenges along the way. However, if you have a solid technology plan and the right understanding of the return on investment in IT planning, the effective implementation can bring your business positive, tangible benefits.
Is your company’s IT running at peak performance? Athens Micro offers professional guidance that could give you a full perspective of your business technology needs. Call us today to learn more.