Strategic Planning for IT: Filling In The Plan

With your high level strategy in place, it’s time to fill in some detail as to how you’re going to deliver. What else does the plan need in order to be accepted?

We’ve spent some time working through the needs of the business and distilling that into a list of high-level objectives that we can use to define a series of projects that will support the needs of the business rather than just point solutions. Now we need to finish the plan off.

I’ve been involved in developing strategic plans in a few places and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to deliver a plan. Each stakeholder will want something different. One thing that I think should accompany every strategy — but not be part of it — is a financial plan.

The finance department will likely want to see a plan that separates capital and operational expenditure and keeps annual spending either even or slightly reducing. However, you’ll need to manage their expectations. If you’re forecasting your expenditure out for five years, there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty, particularly as you try to plan further into the future.

As long you are clear that this is a forecast all should be good. I’d also fight to not make the financial information part of the plan but just an attachment or appendix. Much

I also like including a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats) analysis in the plan and a technology analysis of current trends. This makes it clear to the business what sorts of changes might be expected and where the current IT delivery is strong and where it needs work.

Finally, don’t forget to include skills development for your team. If your plan includes the deployment of new technology you’re not currently using then it’s critical that you make this clear. This can be done either by having a specific item in the plan for education and training or by embedding it into the objectives that satisfy each of the business’ requirements.

There’s no pro-forma template for an IT strategic plan that you can use like a cookie cutter. However, I hope I’ve pointed out the building blocks that you need for when you have to embark on this journey.

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