Canada’s corporate scene is looking to rebound after a difficult year and business IT is playing a more central role than ever before. However, in order to be sure that the right solutions are in place and positioned to support business growth, organizational leaders need to put some serious effort into strategic IT planning. That’s why we’re here to ask – have you completed a strategic IT plan for 2021 yet?
Canadian corporations and organizations in all industries are relieved to be welcoming a new year, filled with new business opportunities. However, even though it’s finally time to put 2020 behind us, Canadian enterprises would be wise to remember the lessons we learned over the difficult year we just endured.
One of the most important lessons we learned from the difficulty of the past year is that there is no such thing as being too prepared – and being unprepared can come at a major cost. Last year, the pandemic required Canadian corporations and organizations to quickly pivot and adapt to remote operations in virtual environments. There’s no denying this was a major challenge for enterprises in all industries.
Forward-thinking Canadian corporations that had strategic business technology plans in place were probably able to make the unexpected transition relatively smoothly. By mobilizing contingency plans and putting the right resources in place, these enterprises were able to adapt strategically. However, for businesses and organizations that did not have a concrete strategic IT plan in place, the unpredictability of last year was likely a major strain on their operations and might have even been hard on their bottom line.
Our team of IT specialists works with a variety of Canadian corporations to provide strategic, enterprise-grade IT service and support. Believe it or not, when we start working with a new client, they sometimes don’t have any long-term IT strategies in place. In fact, strategic IT planning continually remains an afterthought for countless Canadian enterprises, across all industries. We’re on a mission to change this.
There are countless reasons Canadian business leaders should commit themselves to strategic IT planning in 2021. First, it can help provide peace of mind. The more time and effort you spend on your plan, the more you can prepare for potential disruptions and equip your team with the resources they need to adapt. Further, by getting your IT strategies and goals on paper in the form of a cohesive IT plan, you’ll be positioning your organization for continued growth, evolution, and success.
However, we understand that corporate decision-makers might be unsure about how to get started with a strategic IT plan. Most organizational leaders are likely familiar with the idea of strategic planning, but you might be looking for more information on how to bring IT resources and objectives together into a cohesive plan. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for everything you need to know about creating a bullet-proof strategic IT plan for 2021.
Let’s start with the basics by making sure you understand exactly what a strategic IT plan is all about. Just like a strategic business plan, a strategic IT plan is a focused, long-term strategy that outlines clear goals, sets constructive priorities, and ensures that all team members are equipped with reliable resources and actionable strategies.
Designing and customizing a strategic IT plan is about implementing a short-and-long-term decision-making guide for your organization. The best kind of strategic IT plan is one that helps your organization consider all the various ways that IT can be used to drive business growth in the coming year. In short, you can think of your strategic IT plan as your organization’s blueprint for all things IT.
Think of the IT infrastructure your enterprise relies on. Where could it be improved, modernized, or optimized? Maybe you want to assess the efficiency of certain IT resources. Or perhaps you want to start implementing more streamlined solutions or start applying existing resources more strategically. No matter what your IT goals are for the year, getting them together in a cohesive strategic plan will position your organization to get things done the right way.
More than anything else, your strategic IT plan should be aligned with the long-term mission and vision of your organization as a whole. However, the strategic IT plan should focus specifically on how IT can be better harnessed and applied to optimize operations and give your organization a competitive edge. Focus on setting clear objectives that bring together all the day-to-day IT resources and practices your team relies on.
Remember, the goal is to be proactive but it’s also to be realistic and adaptable. In a fast-paced and continually evolving virtual work world, your strategic IT plan needs to be flexible, dynamic, and adaptable to change. If last year taught us anything it’s that conditions can change fast and so can the objectives or capacities of your organization. Make sure your strategic IT plan takes this into account and helps prepare you for any unexpected changes.
When it comes to strategic IT planning, getting started involves a variety of steps including:
Strategic IT plans are usually designed and implemented by high-level organizational stakeholders. This might be a Chief Information Officer (CIO), an IT team lead, or even the general management team of an organization. Above all, a strategic IT plan should be spearheaded by organizational leaders who are familiar with critical IT resources and processes.
Relying on IT leaders is important because they have the best insight into which technology priorities, investments, objectives, and challenges are most important to consider. If your organization doesn’t have a designated IT leadership team, you can always call in a team of strategic IT consultants. The right team of experts will be able to assess your systems infrastructure and help you develop a customized IT strategy to meet the unique needs of your organization.
Remember, while the majority of strategic IT planning should be managed by organizational IT leaders or outsourced IT professionals, don’t forget to include all levels of your team as you work to create a strategic IT plan for your business. Getting insight from teammates who use company IT resources on a daily basis can be helpful in terms of identifying problem areas and creating IT solutions and goals that support every level of operations.
We’ve covered the basics and now it’s time to consider the different components of a strategic IT plan. Basically, a strategic IT plan is a concrete document that takes a step-by-step approach to the management and optimization of IT resources and objectives.
A typical strategic IT plan is one that outlines a clear framework for the assessment of current IT strategies, the implementation of improved ones, and clearly outlined IT objectives for the year. This framework should include the following key elements:
Here are some additional things you might want to include in your strategic IT plan: a detailed IT mission statement that provides a snapshot of your overall IT plan, a comprehensive list of existing IT processes and resources, a set of clear goals and objectives that tie IT strategies to more general business missions, and an assessment of how specific IT resources can be used to implement and optimize the underlying mission of the strategic IT plan.
Remember, these are just some of the steps involved in creating a dynamic and proactive IT strategy. As you work through each step outlined above, be sure to examine the strengths and weaknesses of each area of your plan. This will help you identify things you may think of at first glance and will improve the level of control and organization your strategic IT plan offers.
More than anything else, taking a slow but steady approach to strategic IT planning is the best way to identify and address potential problems before they occur and maintain the highest levels of coordination, integration, and cohesion in your strategic IT plan.
There really are countless benefits to creating a strategic IT plan and there really are no downsides to creating one. Depending on the particular circumstances your organization is operating under, you’ll have different reasons for creating a strategic IT plan. Let’s go over some of the key reasons below.
Business Growth & Competitive Edge
First off, research has shown that organizations that invest time and effort to ensure they have the right tech investments in place – and ensure that these investments are closely aligned with their business, marketing, and sales objectives – it’s these organizations that consistently outperform their peers.
A strategic IT plan can be a huge asset in terms of identifying opportunities for advancement and identifying barriers to overcome before they arise. By staying consistently in-tune with your strategic IT objectives, you can keep larger business goals on track and continue chasing growth and evolution for your organization, no matter how competitive your industry.
Preparedness & Proactivity
Think back to early 2020. The reality is, many businesses and organizations failed to complete a strategic IT plan at the beginning of the year. As a result, they overlooked the importance of a detailed strategic IT plan that includes actionable business continuity strategies, proactive cybersecurity measures, and dynamic remote working solutions.
Without these kinds of detailed plans, many businesses were left scrambling when normal business operations were majorly disrupted due to a global pandemic. This is why it’s so incredibly important to develop a robust and strategic IT plan in order to properly prepare for whatever may come your way. The old saying rings true here: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Staying Up-to-Date in a Virtual Work World
Finally, creating a strategic IT plan is incredibly important if you want to stay up-to-date in an increasingly virtual world of work. Technology continues to play a more central role in the overall business strategy for organizations in all industries. IT has become fundamental for everything from internal and external communication, marketing, client outreach, data analytics, transaction processing, and more.
Therefore, as technology continues to shape how organizations do business, organizations need to start better-structuring how they make their IT decisions and investments. This is why your strategic IT plan should cover a long time-period and should include regularly scheduled check-ins where you can assess how effective and up-to-date your IT strategies and investments are.
If you haven’t yet taken the time to sit down and complete your 2021 strategic IT plan, now is the time. The sooner you get concrete IT objectives and plans on paper, the more prepared you’ll be for strategic and profitable operations this year.
Looking for guidance as you get started? Reach out to our team of IT specialists to schedule a no-obligation virtual meeting. A quick conversation will help you better understand the importance of strategic IT planning and the best ways to approach it. We look forward to putting our expertise to work to help you get and stay prepared for whatever this year has to offer.
Give us a call anytime at (613) 634-8125, or visit our website at www.onserve.ca to chat with a live agent and book a strategic IT planning consultation.