In a contemporary business environment, core business operations and the technology services that support them are no longer separated. Organizations understand that technology is an integral part of their business environment, and technology leaders know that their role exists in service of business strategy.
Many of the systems that organizations rely on as part of their critical operations are built on technology platforms – from sales and development, to accounting and business functions. To maximize overall organizational effectiveness, a business needs to have a clear understanding of the way technology solutions can support its business goals.
That is why the first step in developing an effective and strategic IT program is to understand your business needs, goals, and priorities.
Understanding Business Strategy
Before defining a technology strategy, a business must have a clear understanding of its operational priorities over a variety of timeframes – to start, consider horizons of 6 months, 1 year, 5 years. It is important that organizational leaders throughout the organization – including the IT leader participate in the process of defining priorities. Each department should define priorities according to the organization’s established leadership framework.
Organizations should consider their strategy in terms of the problems they are solving for customers, their business goals, and the activities that will help achieve them. This helps organizational leaders ensure that a variety of stakeholder perspectives and needs are addressed.
When planning the development of an organization strategy, interdepartmental dependencies are opportunities for collaboration. Collaboration between technology, finance, and senior executives is crucial. The technology team must have a thorough understanding of each department’s priorities, the resources available to support them, and how they fit into the larger organizational strategy and business needs. Just as the finance team works with other departments to ensure that initiatives are aligned with the budget, the technology team must work with each department to understand the way that technology can support those initiatives.
The best way to accomplish this is through conducting user discovery interviews at multiple levels of each department. This helps in understanding strategic priorities, and functional areas that are most important to end users in each department. Remember that IT supports business goals at both the organizational level, and in its ability to improve the experience of customers and end users across the business landscape.
Developing an IT Strategy
Once senior leadership and IT are aligned on organizational and departmental priorities, consider developing an IT strategy that addresses those needs. It is important that each initiative that is planned or needs that are identified are addressed and supported. Creating a matrix can be a useful tool in aligning IT initiates directly to the business needs that they support and the problems that they address.
Following these steps ensures that all technical resources are deployed to deliver as much value as possible to the organization. By ensuring that IT has a thorough understanding of business needs and priorities, organizations ensure that their priorities are supported by the most appropriate, effective, and sustainable technology solutions.