Strategic Planning for IT: Business Plans

Over the next four afternoons, we’re going to take a look what you need for your IT strategic plan so that it doesn’t end up as another ignored document that sucked up a bunch of valuable resources. The first stage is getting the business engaged.

Most businesses will have a business plan and strategy. This is a document that describes what the company is planning over the next few years. It’s likely to include a financial plan as well as something about what the company expects to achieve in the coming three to five years. You need to read that as the business won’t be interested in anything you’ve got unless you understand their priorities.

Take a look at your company’s organisational chart. Chances are that there are several departments, each focused on a different business function. Meet with the heads of each department. Explain what you’re doing and make it clear that you’re looking to create a business focused IT plan and not a set of technical specifications.

As you meet with each department, take note of what their role in the broader business plan is and look for ways to support them. In any organisation, there are two jobs worth doing; helping the customer or helping the people helping the customer. In most businesses, the IT falls into the second group. Make sure the plan is expressed in business terms that make this clear.

By this point, you’ll have a clear set of business objectives and an understanding of what all of the business’ major stakeholders expect from the IT department. This is the first building block for your plan.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to map technology to the business requirements.

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