In today’s fast-moving business environment, short-sighted IT decisions can lead to costly, inefficient investments and subpar performance. This is especially true in the area of technology and infrastructure. As applications and platforms proliferate and age, problems can emerge, including redundancies, inefficiencies, security gaps, and unplanned information silos.
Businesses will often look to the latest technologies that will deliver the fastest return on investment. This approach can work in the short term, but without proper planning IT teams find themselves struggling to manage an unwieldy IT infrastructure.
Adding to the complexity, many organizations are running on outdated systems and platforms that are not readily adaptable to today’s rapidly changing business demands. Technology modernization efforts not only require upgrading physical equipment and infrastructure, but also the processes and tools that support them.
Understanding what technology your business needs to reach its goals is essential. Knowing how to get it done—how and when to invest, map, plan, coordinate, and engage the enterprise around your technology initiatives—is equally important. That’s where a carefully planned, smartly executed technology strategy can deliver substantial value.
Creating a solid technology foundation
Effective technology planning begins with a detailed assessment of your IT environment to determine how well your current infrastructure is performing and how best to leverage existing resources. The assessment will help determine what technologies are being optimized, how they are used, and how well they align with your business needs.
The detailed evaluation will reveal insights into your IT strengths and weaknesses, uncover opportunities for cost optimization, and provide greater clarity for making difficult technology investment decisions. As part of the assessment, technologies and workflows are analyzed, tracking performance to uncover weaknesses, inefficiencies and vulnerabilities.
Data gathered from the assessment is then used to create a plan for performance improvement including actionable implementation steps, timelines, roadmaps, cost estimates, options, and alternatives.
To better assess your IT strengths and capabilities, consider applying similar processes and management techniques used by other organizations to identify areas for improvement and better understand how your business compares to industry benchmarks. Once metrics have been established, recurring checks help ensure the technologies and processes are aligned with the benchmarks.
A results-focused approach to IT assessment and evaluation relies on collaboration between the business and the IT consultant. Make sure your technology partner uses the latest analysis and reporting tools to gather information and determine the health status of each area under review. This will provide a deeper understanding of how well your IT is performing and whether your business strategy is supported by your technology.
With an objective IT evaluation, you’ll better understand the complexities and challenges of technology integration and deployment and gain the insight needed to help ensure your IT solutions align with your priorities and will scale appropriately. The assessment will also help determine if your IT security measure are sufficient for your business needs and allow you to identify opportunities to streamline your operations, optimize resources, minimize risk, and create a competitive advantage.
A comprehensive IT assessment will help your business:
- Stay current with the latest technologies and security defenses
- Identify opportunities for cost optimization
- Meet compliance standards for security, uptime and data governance
- Improve the reliability and availability of applications and resources
- Plan for new capabilities based on defined business goals
Reaping the benefits of sound IT planning
Technology is advancing rapidly, and your business should focus on leveraging these advances to propel growth, not hinder it. That’s where strategic IT planning can deliver substantial value―providing the expert guidance and optimum internal resources needed to improve efficiency, drive productivity, safeguard assets, and maximize ROI.
A well-designed technology plan has several core functions:
- Evaluate the capabilities and skills of your in-house IT staff
- Create a custom, prioritized list of projects and initiatives you need to complete to ensure your technology will support business goals
- Examine your IT environment, systems, and applications for adherence to best practice standards
- Conduct an analysis to identify gaps between your business’s needs and the mix and performance of IT infrastructure
- Understand the timelines, milestones, and estimated costs for each proposed project
A proactive strategy gives you a better chance of preventing major disruptions that can impact your bottom line. The plan prioritizes your management activities to take full advantage of the opportunities enabled by a smooth-running IT operation, whether it’s growing revenue, capturing market share or digital transformation.
Expert analysis and technology roadmap planning help ensure the best approach to migrating your platforms and applications to deliver optimum performance and maximum return on investment. The roadmap includes all of the recommendations and actionable work outlined in the assessment, including a timeline and estimate of the cost of each project and the resources required from both IT and business unit perspective.
With a defined plan and roadmap, technology investments become much more transparent, as milestones and improvements are achieved and tracked along the way. The roadmap will also provide you with a structured framework for planning and managing changes to business and technology priorities as they evolve.
A carefully planned technology strategy will help you:
- Identify the business capabilities that will be needed over a defined period as outlined in your business plan
- Establish an overarching technology vision that defines the core elements or features of the technology needed to support your business strategy
- Agree on the execution timeline outlined in the technology plan
- Determine the business needs that will take priority and assess the gaps between current and required capabilities
- Identify and prioritize top technology goals as defined through the needs assessment
- Develop a roadmap detailing the initiatives that will be delivered during the established planning period
Keeping pace with the speed of business
Innovation can transform your business and elevate your performance, but navigating technology and managing complexity isn’t always easy. As your business needs change and grow, more focus is needed to ensure that technical delivery functions and IT services are designed, implemented, managed and controlled in a consistent manner.
Changing business dynamics continue to shift the role of IT―from managing and supporting technology to the broader, more strategic objective of driving business value. In this era of rapid change, strategic IT planning takes on greater importance. To position IT as an enabler of success, you need an IT strategy that aligns with your business and will take you where you want to go.