What Are IT Strategies? (With Importance and How to Develop)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published November 12, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Many organizations seek effective IT strategies to foster organizational success and ensure business continuity. Regardless of the field or industry, technology is essential to create innovative business models, products, and services and enhance customer service, sales, and overall workplace productivity. Learning about IT strategies and how to create an effective one can help you accomplish an organization's goals and advance your career. In this article, we explain the meaning of an IT strategy, discuss its importance, and describe how to develop an effective one.
What are IT strategies?
IT strategies, or technology strategies, are a comprehensive plan defining how an organization intends to deploy its technology to meet specified business and IT goals. It entails all aspects of technology management, including risk management, vendor management, costs, and software and hardware management. This strategy is usually a written document that details several factors affecting an organization's investment in the use of technology.
Executing a technology strategy often requires effective IT leadership. The chief technology officer (CTO) and chief information officer (CIO) usually collaborate with other departments to achieve company objectives. Many internet and technology-based organizations may incorporate their IT strategies into the overall business strategy to create a single document.
Why are they important?
A technology strategy is essential, as it supports interactions with vendors, suppliers, and other business partners. It can help accomplish long-term business goals and enable businesses to gain a competitive advantage in the industry. Many organizations create a technology strategy to reduce operational challenges, achieve economies of scale, and derive value from investments. Here are more beneficial reasons to develop a technology strategy:
Improves communication: It helps improve communication between IT and other departments by providing a unified approach to sharing and processing information across the company. This can help minimize errors and duplicate work and increase collaboration and workplace efficiency.
Facilitates effective resource allocation: A well-designed technology strategy can enable the IT department to be more proactive in project planning and resource allocation. This helps foster a better decision-making process, as the company can critically analyze options and choose the best by prioritizing long-term benefits.
Saves costs: A technology strategy can help improve IT resilience in a company. This minimizes the high costs associated with extended downtime.
Helps protect company data: Information technology strategies usually provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to cybersecurity, allowing you to protect employee and customer data effectively. This is especially essential for regulated industries with compliance and security standards.
Allows for easier data collection and analysis: Many emerging technologies, including those using big data and artificial intelligence for business operations, often require large amounts of reliable data to provide accurate insights. It can be easier to collect, govern, and analyze data with a working technology strategy.
Promotes organizational alignment: When an effective technology strategy is in place, every company employee and departmental leader can understand their roles in contributing to IT goals, fostering organizational alignment. It can also help persuade relevant stakeholders about the benefits of proposed IT initiatives, including improving overall business processes and strategy.
How to develop an effective IT strategy
A technology strategy can be a powerful tool to increase business growth and efficiency by directly supporting goals and employees. Here's a list of steps you can follow to develop an effective technology strategy:
1. Determine business objectives
To create an effective strategy, it's essential to understand the business objectives of every department in the organization. Consider their sales targets, growth plans, demand forecasts, marketing goals, and partnership opportunities to ensure a comprehensive approach that can meet all division's requirements. Once you understand the business goals and needs, you can develop the strategy to address them.
2. Consult with stakeholders
You can understand and analyze recent trends to design a forward-thinking architecture technology strategy that can address current IT needs and support the company's future growth plans. Consider consulting with relevant stakeholders to gather information on the latest technology trends in the industry and determine which one best satisfies the business needs.
You can gain insights by initiating individual conversations, creating surveys, or organizing group interviews for stakeholders managing different aspects of the business. This can help ensure all relevant parties are aware of the strategy's purpose and their roles in applying it. Consultative meetings with relevant business leaders can help you understand how they use technology, know their future plans, and determine how IT can support them.
3. Define the scope and schedule
Next, you can define your proposed strategy's scope, schedule, and requirements. Ensure it addresses the goals of each department and the entire company. Because the strategy can't solve all of a company's challenges instantly, the scope and schedule help articulate how it affects each department and function. While technology strategies are often long term, you may set milestones to review them periodically and ensure their relevance and effectiveness. A clearly defined technology strategy plan, schedule, and scope can be helpful when implementing the strategy.
4. Assess existing infrastructure
After defining the scope and schedule, consider reviewing the existing infrastructure to identify potential issues and define current IT capabilities. During your assessment, you can determine how different teams and departments use technology and their preferred software tools and systems. You can also analyze the tools providing the most value. Consider replacing ineffective systems with other available resources to achieve desired results.
Critically assessing your current infrastructure can enable you to develop a strategy based on your available resources. It can also help you identify opportunities to save time and costs you may spend trying to implement a brand new infrastructure.
5. Create a roadmap for resource allocation and architecture
After understanding your current position and your ultimate goals, you can create a roadmap to achieve them. This step involves mapping your IT architecture, including the hardware and software tools and the other resources required. You can also consider department-specific technology regulations and how they can integrate into the company-wide system.
You can create a template to store this information with other essential documents that visualizes your architecture, the budgeted costs and resources, and the people to use it. If you don't want to build a new template, consider exploring various technology strategy templates and choose your preferred type.
6. Define key performance indicators
Because a technology strategy aims to support business needs, try to ensure it's cost-effective and functional. Consider identifying vital metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use as a standard to analyze the technology strategy's performance over time. This can help you measure the strategy's effectiveness after execution. KPIs you can measure include:
Qualitative indicators: These indicators help track end-user and customer feedback.
Business-level indicators: These KPIs usually monitor the budget, resource allocation, and customer satisfaction.
Operational indicators: This metric measures capacity utilization, marketing, sales, and ROI.
Service level indicators: This monitors the number of desk calls, including inquiries, complaints, or requests from clients or customers.
7. Execute the strategy
After completing the plan, you can reach out to company management and executives to gain support and receive the budget required for implementation. Consider preparing a projection of the IT initiative's ROI to convince senior executives of its value. You can also consider all potential risks associated with the strategy and ensure contingency plans are available before executing it.
Review the entire plan with an IT service provider and ensure the IT employees have the necessary skills and expertise to support the new technology strategy and primary operations to gain a competitive advantage. While your IT team can be valuable and have the institutional knowledge to lead the strategy, they may require additional support from consulting services at critical design and implementation stages.
8. Update it regularly
You can ensure the plan and its documentation are flexible and adjustable according to varying organization circumstances and market conditions. Business priorities and objectives may also change, so consider making the necessary modifications to update the technology strategy and ensure its effectiveness. With the continuous advancement in technology, it's essential to update your strategy regularly to suit current user needs, allocated budget, and the available skill sets and competencies in the organization.
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