For business owners and department heads, the New Year countdown starts well before New Year’s Eve. It begins at least a full quarter earlier, as you lay out the goals and objectives, along with the budgets and investment required, to get there.

Information technology planning is no different. If you have yet to outline your strategic initiatives for 2022 as they relate to technology, now is the time. Here’s our guide to getting started.

Do understand the business strategy.

This guides everything, right? No departmental strategy should be created in a silo, and the IT strategic planning process is no different. Start there, and let those marching orders provide a basis for the shape technology will take over the course of the next several months.

Don’t make a list of technology needs.

The strategy and planning phase sets the stage for listing the “what” of technology, but it isn’t about making a list. Strategic plans include details about how IT will support business processes using technology infrastructure.

A good plan outlines particulars about the human resources required (including internal staff or outsourced resources and partners), timeframes or phases, and desired metrics, but it doesn’t stop there. It also shows the value of the technology investments in supporting and ensuring business success.

Do think mid term to long term, but also plan to pivot.

Think of what’s in your plan as guiding principles that inform decision making relative to technology, rather than set-in-stone parameters. If the past two years have taught us anything it’s that a business’ technology needs can change in almost an instant.

If digital transformation is needed and part of your plan, for example, use the information you have today to map that out, and then calendar time quarterly to review and adjust your plan as needed.

Do include key performance indicators (KPIs).

The only way to know if implemented strategic objectives were successful is to look at the data. Measuring IT’s performance should be based on business outcomes and must be evaluated regularly according to the cadence of your business.

Steps for Creating a Strategic Plan

#1 Gather stakeholders

IT provides value for everyone across the organization, but that’s not always clear. Involve as many stakeholders from as many business units as you can, as early as you can, in the planning process.

Doing so will serve two important purposes: 1) Help IT understand what is important to other departments, and 2) Help unify and align teams throughout the organization. Ultimately, a cross-enterprise approach will help IT get the buy-in needed.

#2 Identify issues and opportunities

This is the discovery phase that will allow for a big-picture understanding of needs and it sets the stage for prioritization. Bring all your stakeholders together, establish roles and responsibilities, and learn from each other.

#3 Analyze feedback and assess resources

This is where things start to come together: IT leaders and representatives across the enterprise are in alignment, and it’s time to analyze and prioritize. During this phase, resources — from people to funds — must be established.

#4 Define and deliver

Define the deliverables and desired outcomes and document dependencies and risks. Develop a roadmap that connects everything together and provides execution and implementation timelines and milestones. Also determine how success will be measured.

#5 Measure and review

This final phase evaluates the success of your IT strategy planning, and builds in opportunity to shift and iterate where needed. Establish initial benchmarks and a feedback loop to ensure the strategy is relevant and continues to support the desired business outcomes.

You don’t have to do IT strategy planning alone. AccountabilIT is the partner you need to help you make sense of the rapidly changing technology landscape, and to ensure your technology plans support overall business success. Get started today.