The Leap Consulting team is often asked, ‘What are the steps to follow to create an IT plan that will work for our company?’
As with most business processes, it pays to know the path to follow and the pitfalls to avoid. In terms of formulating an IT plan to address your IT infrastructure solutions, our top recommendations are:
1) Start with business strategy, not technology.
Begin rather with your strategic plan, before focusing on technology solutions. Sports teams often sign a star player and then try to fit that person into the team. Wrong way round! Knowing what you are trying to achieve strategically and tactically provides the insight to guide the choices of IT solutions to support and enable those goals.
2) Talk to the people involved.
Engage with the people who work in the processes, even if it outsourcing services are used. Whether it be your staff or managed IT services, find out what their challenges are, what they find difficult or annoying, where the obstacles lie. Engage individually, in groups and by using tools like surveys to gather anonymous feedback. That will provide the necessary insight to assess potential opportunities for improvement, some of which could be achieved with technology solutions.
During this process it pays to consult as widely as possible, including staff at all levels, but possibly also customers and suppliers.
3) Benchmark the competition.
IT consultants can provide crucial insights owing to their broader market involvement, providing insights into how other organisations are using technology to improve efficiency and performance.
Key areas to consider can include: the size and scope of the current IT function, the level of spending, how responsibilities are allocated, whether you simply replace or actively upgrade as a matter of course, where the IT leadership level is set in your organisation, and the relative merits of outsourcing or working in-house.
Understand how existing software assets are performing. Are they meeting key needs, or are they hampering the flow of business? It is necessary to examine the impact your systems may have on suppliers and clients; doing so may reveal that their needs should be taken into account to optimise the value chains.
5) Perform a gap analysis.
Once you understand the current state of operations and establish a clear view of the ‘future perfect’ strategic goals, the resultant gap makes clearer what needs to be done to close it. This gap might show that IT investment is insufficient to meet growth ambitions; that staff may not be ready to meet company needs, either in numbers or experience; or that IT systems may need to be replaced or enhanced.
6) Assess the necessary actions to address gaps.
With a gap identified, it’s time to formulate an action plan to plug it. A short term view and a longer one is necessary and should be supported by experienced people who can guide the organisation with the implementation of any new systems and technology, while also – crucially – supporting change management to ensure positive improvement.
Creating an effective IT plan is not about technology. Instead, it is about understanding organisational goals and processes, then selecting the best solutions to enable those goals to become a reality. In competitive markets, those companies which take advantage of solutions that accelerate speed, accuracy and performance will gain an edge on those that don’t. The IT plan, therefore, is a strategic document which sets out just how your company will do that.
Many companies consider outsourcing part or all of their managed IT function. At Leap Consulting, we’re often asked about the advantages and the pitfalls. Any questions? We’d love to hear from you, so call us obligation-free on 1300-532-748. Discover some of the most important considerations for yourself by downloading our free ebook 8 Mistakes Businesses Make When Outsourcing Their IT guide below.