I recently shared my thoughts on why good IT planning drives business success, and how a lack of IT planning results in technical debt. Unfortunately, we continue to meet with business leaders whose IT is a mess due to poor IT planning. Too many leaders continue to have a firefighting approach to IT: fires pop up and are doused but there is no long-term plan to prevent these fires from flaring up again. This is what is known as a reactive approach to technology management and it can be costly for both the business as well as the IT provider.
Your technology can be working for you (better results) or against you (more problems) and the outcome is a direct result of your IT planning process and the investments you choose to make or ward off.
Good IT planning requires business leadership
Good IT starts with business leadership. Initiate your 3-4 year IT planning process by asking these high level questions:
- What do you ultimately want from your technology?
- How does technology help fulfill your company’s core purpose?
- How do you see technology impacting your culture?
- What capabilities (i.e., work from home) do you want for your team?
- What are your big IT pain points?
- How does your technology need to perform in five to 10 years?
- How much importance do you place on cybersecurity?
Build a three-year vivid vision
Next, work with your leadership team (which includes your IT partners or manager) to build that three-year vivid vision for your technology that supports the outcomes above. Have them help you with these questions:
- If you could wave a magic wand and cost was not an issue, what technology and processes would need to be in place to meet the long-term business goals?
- If you threw away everything you had today, what would you build when starting over?
- How would this vision impact the business and your team?
- What would be the value of implementing this vision?
Outline the major steps
Have your leadership/IT team lay out the major steps to get from where you are at today to where you want to be in the future. Do not focus on details at this stage. Think big picture.
- If this were a series of projects, what would the projects be called?
- How long would these projects take?
- What is the logical order?
- Map these steps out.
Build quarterly and monthly IT plans
- What do you want to accomplish this year and what are the rough costs?
- What do you want to accomplish this quarter and what are the specific costs?
- Decide and ensure that those on the leadership team are on the same page.
Establish a regular cadence (i.e. monthly, quarterly, etc.) with your IT team to check in and drive the plan
Repeat the above steps once per year and adjust as you go
This approach will not only give you confidence in your technology investment, but with well-defined planning, there will be fewer IT decisions that you need to make at the last minute. Ongoing investment in IT planning is part of a proactive approach that will save your organization time, reduce long-term costs and give you peace of mind. Let your IT team work with more autonomy, so you can focus on core business functions. If you need IT consulting from the Pod, let us know!
Common consequences of poor IT planning
- Slow / misbehaving / crashing computers
- Slow / misbehaving / crashing servers
- Outdated line of business software
- Poor, intermittent network issues (both wired and wifi)
- Compromised mailboxes due to poor security (generally no multifactor authentication)
- Poor organization of data which evolves into “security spaghetti”