Have you noticed how many courses, webinars, and online workshops there are, that claim to teach you the secret to XYZ? I’ve often wondered about those who teach these programs, did they start out as teacher’s, or were they student’s first. There is a saying, the teacher appears when the student is ready. I have been student most of my life, why…because I like to learn. I also love to teach, but it’s not a natural gift for me, I have to work hard at it! Learning is harder for me because I’m so abstract, visionary, and I tend to fly at 50,000 feet, and most of the time, people don’t get me. That may be a communication issue.
I’m in my mid to late 50’s now, so I’ve been doing the details and leading teams to do details for many years. I’m a teacher, and a learner, but I had to learn long before I could teach. Plus, I had to have some life experience before I could teach intelligently. So, what are you, or where are you in this journey of becoming a teacher? Are you trying to be a teacher too soon, maybe you haven’t learned enough yet, haven’t experienced enough, or does it matter?
I guess I’m just curious about where all these Expert’s and Guru’s come from, and where did they learn to do what they teach. Are they accredited, who are they, what do we know about them, ya my heads exploding with all the questions. The old adage, the old rule applies here as it does in any transaction, buyer beware, you may be getting sold down the river by these expert’s and gurus.
But if you ask yourself, what do I like to do, learn or teach, I think you’ll find one can’t go without the other. Be careful what you call yourself when you the student is ready to become a teacher, your experience will become obvious.
We’ve covered Vision & Mission, KRA’s and Objectives so far, today I want to talk to you about Action Plans. As you know nothing happens without action of some sort, even writing this article requires action on my part. This area of your strategic plan does not have to be an exhaustive list but a substantial one, these items should also have dates beside them as targets for delivery or completion.
This list might look like a To Do List in or on any other document but this is your bigger picture stuff that goes into your short & long term plans. I am listing for you a few items that might be on your list but you’ll have to assess your situation and build your list. This action list should be in line with some or all items listed in your objectives, this list will cover a broad scope of projects & items you want to get done over the next 12 to 18 to 24 months. Also keep in mind this list is not written in stone, it is like a budget, it’s a guide to keep you on track with the organizations needs. You may make changes to this plan as circumstances arise and technology advances.
1. Identify the most effective software package for the organization – 2Q – 2010
2. Prepare 5 year budget for core applications – 3Q – 2010
3. To prepare a general implementation plan and schedule for core applications for the next 18 – 24 months – 3Q – 2010
4. Develop strategy to train staff – 3Q – 2010
5. Complete a formal review of Network Infrastructure – 2Q – 2010
This list could have over 20 projects or items on it, it’s like a to do list you want to complete in a timely fashion in the upcoming months. At this point you have been assessing your organizations needs and requirements, then documenting your findings. You should have met with all departments and subject matter experts to learn as much as you can about the current shortcomings of your existing core applications. You also would have collected a wish list from each department to assist in assessing or identifying the appropriate software package that will handle 80 – 90% of the organizations process. Your goal is to make the staff’s job easier and giving customers better support by automating as many processes as possible.
As you can see these plans can take on different shapes and sizes but you as the I.T. Leader must know your organizations needs, if you don’t, that’s your first task before you can build an intelligent I.T. Strategic Plan. In the next part of our mock plan, we will shift gears and move into the Analysis part of our plan.
Possibly the third step in your plan will be a category called KRA ( Key Result Areas). This area will be different for each organization, this is due to different infrastructures and software that may already be in place. This is more of an observation and desire to improve on existing services provided by your current I.T. team.
I have listed 5 items below that might be on your list under KRA’s, also keep in mind every experienced I.T. leader will view these items differently and might not agree so try to keep an open mind.
Key Result Area’s
1. Integrate Core Application – you may have multiple applications that don’t speak to each other and you want to solve this short coming.
2. Constituent Self-serve Via the Internet – you may want to give more and easier access to data via the internet to staff.
3. Realign and Train Existing Staff – an obvious one for improving the skill set of all staff members using core applications
4. Improve Support To Field Staff – if you have staff in the field, your goal should be to get them more connected to HQ or central office.
5. Provide a stable IT Infrastructure – this should be an ongoing goal from day one and never end.
I hope that helps you in designing your I.T. Strategic Plan, your list will look different based on organizational needs, but you get the idea.
Feel free to leave questions and comments below, until next time.
Two Key Ingredients To A Successful I.T. Strategic Plan
Before entering into an I.T. Strategic Planning session there are two key areas of your business you need to be well versed, it will make or break your plan. Prepare your team and arm them with the right information, they will develop a sound strategy that may only require minor corrections 3 – 5 years down the road. Every plan needs to be updated and adjusted as to ensure it is inline with the business needs.
I’m not going to go into great detail here but you will get the picture, there are many steps in developing a sound strategy and it’s up to you, The Leader, to ensure you equip your team with as much information as possible. Without the right tools & information the exercise will take twice as long and you will most likely never provide solutions for your organization, hence you may not be kept on for a second shot at it.
As a Leader in your organization you know what it means to be well informed and it’s no different for this team, in order for the strategic team to be successful you must be able to articulate the companies business plan in simple terms. Your team needs to understand the company objectives and how they originally planned to achieve them, otherwise there is no target, no way to know which direction to go, this business plan is a compass. If you do not know or someone on your I.T. Strategic Planning Team is not privy to this information, stop and get it, this information will set the tone of your plan. Get a strong understanding of this business plan at high level at the minimum, as it is must have information.
You must know ALL your organizations business processes. What are the processes that take place in one business day to get the job done for each department in your company. This is important to know because you’ll want an inventory of all processes so they can be reviewed to determine which ones can and can not be automated. This key is also critical in order to find the right ERP solution for your organization should that be identified as a project in your I.T. Plan for the next 3 – 5 years. Some call this the pulse of the business, it is the oil, the workflow that determines profitability or the lack of, you need to get a good handle on this item to ensure you are identifying, addressing and eliminating broken parts of your system or systems.
As you can see the above are preliminary but are essential if you want to be of value to your organizations future success. You also need to have a good understanding of these two keys for step one in designing your I.T. Strategic Plan, step one is the Vision / Mission of your I.T. Department. Without that understanding it will hamper your efforts to find your voice, to articulate your vision to those who are looking to you to solve and provide the best service possible to the whole organization.
Feel free to leave your comments and input, if you wish to hire Owen to help you develop an I.T. Strategic Plan simpy e-mail me at:
Until next time 🙂