This technically could be the last section of your plan, this is where you take a high level look at the plan and existing challenges that may hamper your ability to deliver on any said item. Depending on who and how I.T. decisions are made in your organization could literally dismantle your strategy on many levels. I wrote on this topic back June 2009, it’s called I.T. Decisions – Who Makes Them In Your Organization?
Once you’ve finished this section you can then do an Executive Summary for the purposes of presenting to your Executive Team and or Board of Directors. Here is a short hypothetical example of this section:
A one year planning and budgeting cycle creates significant difficulties for the I.T. Department to execute the early stages of this plan.
- Hardware and software have to be upgraded or replaced regularly, either to take advantage of newer technologies or reduce maintenance fees. However, sometimes an upgrade would make long term sense but cannot be done because it is too large for a one year budget. This has resulted in a series of sub-optimal short term purchasing decisions being made.
- Recent budget cuts have forced a multi-year upgrade schedule to be differed resulting in perpetually out-of-date technology.
- Many projects take longer than one year to complete and require both tools and personnel at the start-up stage, but will not see significant results until the subsequent year.
- A new service is anticipated to be required by a department in a future year but the department lacks sufficient budget or approval to such an expenditure; however, there might be sufficient lead time for IT to prepare the infrastructure; does IT ” risk it ” and build the infrastructure anyway?
That’s just snippet of what you might put in this Planning Observations section, I suggest you pull your top three together to ensure you are covering the critical issues. You’ll want your IT leaders to be in the loop especially if you are seeking additional budget and it gets rejected, they may be able to assist you with other creative ways to turn the rejection around.
This section may answer some question but will also bring out more, consider it an opportunity to think tank with your team. The S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) gives a quick reference to things that may or may not be real, but are possibilities. The accumulation of all these steps builds a road map, an understanding, and makes it possible to explain or describe where you are going in a short concise way, and makes it obvious what you are planning to do in the coming month’s and or years.
Keep in mind there is no wrong or right answer here, you are merely compiling and observing your organizations current status. This is just one step on the journey, one step in building a business case, and one more step in assessing what services and changes are needed to support your organizations business requirements. The basics rarely change, only the technology does, and of course there is always a list of nice to haves, documenting everything helps you filter what’s important and what is not.
Again, this list will be different…it should be as technology and business needs change. Here is an example:
1. Minimal Core Infrastructure (name your application here)
2. New, enthusiastic team
1. 85% of staff are new to the organization
2. Unable to meet the expectations (Can’t move fast enough to please everyone)
3. Network instability
4. Lack of integration of core applications
1. Social Media Networks
2. Open Source
1. Inability to compete for qualified skilled people
2. Security – hacking, spam etc.
3. Inadequate budget
4. Little control over vendor products or direction
5. Little control over technologies
This is just an example of what your S.W.O.T. might look like, pull your team together and ask all the tough questions, make an exhaustive list and then pick the top 5 from each of the 4 areas in your SWOT.
This is the prime definition taken from the Wikipedia site on SWOT Analysis:
SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.
Until next time
The past three years have seen huge growth in a phenomenon called Social Media, very few organizations understand what it is and don’t have a solid strategic way of maximizing the potential market growth. They know their staff are spending vasts amount of personal time and company time in those networks but don’t understand why and or the power of Social Media Networks.
The challenge with Social Media Networks are many but the one CEO’s and the like will struggle with is control and how they can leverage those environments. Which Network do we hitch our wagon too? How does it work and why? How do we control those networks for our purposes? You can make up your question here as it fits with the not knowing of how to harness a wild beast called Social Media.
Has the time come for organizations to take Social Media Networks seriously and should they include them in their I.T. & Business strategic plans? What’s your plan? Does your company have an I.T. Strategic Plan? Do you know what one is and looks like? Does the I.T. Plan align with with business processes?
Here is a breakdown of how an I.T. Strategic Plan might look:
1.) Purpose (Vision, Mission)
3.) KRA ( Key Result Areas)
5.) Action Plans
7.) List of Similar Providers
8.) Current Business Relationships
9.) Key Success Factors
10.) Core Competencies
11.) SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
12.) Budget Alignment
13.) Planning Observations
This is not written in stone but you get the idea, each consulting group will have their own framework, this happens to be mine. If you have questions or thoughts please leave a comment and I’ll try to answer your request.
No matter how or what you do and or how you use technology (Information Technology) you should have a plan and Social Media Networks could be a strategy in your plan, it depends on the perceived value of those networks.
If you would like to hire Owen to assist you in developing a positive I.T. Strategic Plan and ensure that plan aligns with your overall business strategy you can e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org