Stepping back from daily operations to take a higher-level look at your company’s technology status and future needs will help you formally set IT goals and a plan for reaching them. A strategic plan for IT will also help you align your IT decisions with your company’s strategic plan, and will create a sound basis for priority and budget setting.
Here are some tips to help you get started on a strategic plan for IT:
1. Talk with stake holders within and outside your company. That includes key employees or department heads and customers/clients. You’ll want to get an idea of their pain points, wish lists and level of technological prowess. All of this information will inform the technology plan you’ll eventually put together. Examples of questions to ask the stakeholders:
- What training might be necessary for employees?
- Are there written policies governing issues such as social media, mobile devices, data backups?
- Is your internet connection fast enough? Reliable?
- What services do you deliver to customers that are helped or hindered by technology?
2. Perform an inventory of your IT assets, including hardware, software and networking equipment. You should create or update a list of hardware, including key information such as model and serial number and year purchased. Use average replacement cycle times for various components, such as servers and printers, to predict when you’ll need to plan for replacement. Your IT consultant can help you determine the average replacement age for hardware.
It’s not just hardware you need to monitor and track. Software needs to be managed as well. Do you know where copies of the software is stored? Create a list of software, including version number, vendor contact information, support contact information and serial numbers. Now ask these questions:
- Is there a newer version of the software available? How far behind are you in upgrading?
- Will the next upgrade require a hardware upgrade as well?
If the software is critical to your operations and the newest version won‘t run on Windows XP, you may need to upgrade not only your Operating System, but your desktop workstation as well. It’s best to identify such situations well ahead of time, then plan your capital expenditures accordingly.
3. Look at your company’s strategic plan, it’s long-range plans. How will they affect your IT needs? For example, if the strategic plan calls for your company to staff up in the future, that will probably mean purchasing additional desktop workstations, copies of software licenses, even a more robust connection to the internet.
4. Team up with an expert. Your professional IT consultant or service company can offer invaluable assistance during any step of this process. Bringing in expert help early can help avoid costly oversights or unreasonable assumptions that will derail the strategic plan for IT that you eventually create.