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Seven Questions to Ask Before Building an IT Strategy

Many organizations fail to take advantage of the many opportunities that technology can provide

Even as modern economic activities rely heavily on sound IT strategies, many organizations fail to take advantage of the many opportunities that technology can provide. For instance, some types of can improve processes and profit margins. Clearly, there is a gap between the availability of infrastructure, and what enterprises actually need to overhaul at their place of business to benefit cash flow.

Before formulating your company's IT strategy, there are a few questions that you should ask.

  1. Is the strategy too generic? IT organizations hardly cater to just one type of need, one kind of customer, or one market segment. The IT strategy must have an overall strategy, but it must also feature tactics that are specific to operating and market demands. Even the most successful enterprises know that one size hardly fits all. IT managers, therefore, should consider the unique needs of each business unit that makes up the entire organization - or they should consider each sample client that makes up the entire market segment.
  2. Is the strategy market-driven? Internal IT implementations are hardly the right starting points for new IT strategies. It is a truism that you cannot achieve the results that you want if you are doing the same things over and over. Step outside the corporate box, and try to look at the needs of your market. Instead of looking to top management for clues, ask the men and women on the ground about their needs as they might offer ideas that can improve the overall operating performance.
  3. Will the strategy be clearly communicated? Business strategies are usually understood by top management - usually in terms of paybacks and end-goals, but actual strategy implementations are usually lost in transmission. From the start, it is wise to document the strategy for wider distribution. Moreover, with this type of document, everyone at the organization can discuss the new policies, technologies, methods, and other possible changes.
  4. Is the strategy realistic? Your strategy must be developed with full regard for the resources needed to make a particular strategy work. Although a new strategy may sound promising, IT managers must think about practical aspects that include funds, technical competencies, and available technologies. Further, the new strategy must compliment – and not hinder – a company's culture.
  5. Does the strategy improve daily operations? Any new strategy must meet the operating and business goals of the company. Otherwise, it is a waste of effort and resources to formulate new policies, acquire new technologies, implement plans, or provide new sets of knowledge. If, at the end of the day, the new strategy does not result in more efficient operating procedures or greater market value, implementing a different strategy makes no sense whatsoever.
  6. Does the strategy have the right support system? By support system, we refer to the top and middle management support - as well as the general resource pool. After all, buy-in by the rank-and-file is just as important as the support of the strategy’s sponsors. Remember that in most change projects, failure is rooted within the people factor. In the same breadth, adoption by both management and the entire staff pushes the strategy towards a more successful path.
  7. Does the strategy adapt to changes in the business environment? Strategies must be dynamic enough to adapt to changes in the business environment. Assumptions must be validated as often as is necessary to either maintain the status quo or to trigger changes in the system.

By ExecutiveBrief

 Technology management resource for business leaders

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ExecutiveBrief is an online project management resource for technology executives, featuring expert opinions, reviews, blogs and news. The publication mostly covers software project management and process improvement topics and is targeted at higher decision-makers. Other focus topics of ExecutiveBrief are leadership issues and outsourcing industry trends. More information at: www.executivebrief.com

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