Mindset Shift: Moving IT from an Afterthought, to Driving the Strategic Plan

"It's not in the budget." If you're like most businesses then you've come to embrace this mind set toward many Information Technology expenditures being considered for your organization. In addition to losing sleep over the costs necessary to embrace a new IT direction or change, the fact that you can be blindsided by emergency IT expenditures that can prevent proactive advances can be unsettling as well.

Working with many of our customers, we've found a common thread across all clients, regardless of size, budget, industry, or culture - IT almost exclusively takes a back seat to overall business goals for the organization. What I mean by this is that the IT-related items end up being a one word or one sentence bullet point on the bottom corner of the annual plan. By the time next year comes around, and it's time to plan again, you see that the year came and went without any movement on technology action items at all. Or worse yet, you did make a decision and implemented, but the result isn't what you had intended and the perceived value wasn't realized because it wasn't integrated into overall plans and objectives effectively.

Since we've started engaging in regular planning sessions with clients, we've begun to see the IT conversation and focus moving toward an integrated business planning approach, which includes IT's role in plans, revenue forecasting and new service offerings. Every organization is unique, but the challenges it faces are very much universal and planning assists in developing effective IT plans. Proactively planning 12 to 36 months in advance can eliminate the frustrations that come from ineffective IT implementations that are reactive versus strategic.

Depending on an organization's characteristics and goals, the best use of IT planning activities and steps can vary slightly. Actions used to define needs and plan next steps may include: internal departmental surveys; reference calls to current and former customers related to a proposed business application; IT SWOT Analysis; IT plan summaries; ongoing virtual CIO engagement review and more.

If the thought of how you're leveraging technology and what role it plays in the long-term success for your organization has you losing sleep or breathing into a paper bag then give us a call so we can help put it back on the rails with you. It is not a short or simple process, but making IT a proactive part of business planning can keep your company on the path to success.

 written by: Jeff Newton - 7/31/2015