Guide to IT Planning: Answering the what, why, who, and how
IT planning is often a neglected process in businesses because they do not understand the importance it holds for business growth. That is why when businesses suffer losses or face some delays, they never think of inadequate IT planning as one of the possible reasons.
However, a Guide to IT Planning is an important factor that can drive business outcomes if done properly; if not, it may lead to inefficient processes that result in high costs or delays.
Organizations do not make the Guide to IT Planning a strategic exercise that is to be done once or twice a year. If they experience any problem in any IT application, system, services, or software, they just upgrade, change, or replace it. However, this is not sustainable or beneficial for the organization in the end. An IT plan is much more than just a short-term solution in case of a technology-related crisis.
A personalized approach in the Guide to IT Planning to make your the process smoother and clearer
Guide to IT Planning : What is IT planning?
IT planning is the process of planning for the investment and use of IT systems, applications, and services. The basic premise behind IT Planning is defining and predicting the acquisition and usage of IT hardware and software in the business processes to achieve the broad, strategic objectives of the enterprise. The CIOs and CTOs along with other senior management of the organization are involved in the IT planning to ensure the IT assets work properly and ensure business continuity, lower costs, and save time.
Guide to IT Planning : Why do IT Planning?
A Guide to IT Planning is important because of the following reasons:
IT keeps the operations of an organization running and ensures collaboration and communication between different teams and amongst team members; to avoid any failures or breakdowns in these, IT Planning is important
IT Planning gives a structure to the business’s attempt to strategize, control, and manage the usage of IT in their operations and processes so that the impact results in reduced costs, higher productivity, and more value
IT planning is a way to guarantee the acquisition or development of IT assets or solutions, implementation of these solutions, up-gradation of them when required, and using the solutions for various business processes to deliver desired results
IT Planning requires an understanding of your organization’s IT strengths and weaknesses, and based on this, you plan the IT initiatives that make your organization more mature, more ready to tackle the risks, and makes your business strategy sustainable and achievable
IT Planning includes the effective organization of IT assets in the business; creating a set of instructions, guidance, and best practices for their use; deciding the human resources and capabilities required to manage them, and establishing standards of measuring performance to check if the expectations are met
With an IT plan, you get an idea about the opportunities that emerging technologies and innovations in IT can bring to your processes, and also you anticipate the challenges and uncertainties that new IT initiatives bring along so that you can have contingency plans in place
Planning of IT helps you in making decisions for the business operations, designing and developing the business strategy, building up a collaborative environment between various functions with IT departments, and earning the trust and credibility of multiple stakeholders
Guide to IT Planning : How we do IT Planning
The process of planning for IT requires several steps according to the Guide to IT Planning. Still, it is a crucial component for every
business, as a properly planned IT plan saves your time in execution and also results in higher ROI.
The IT plan must have all the necessary components such as a mission statement, assessment of the company business plan, SWOT analysis of its IT assets, understanding of the gaps, budgeting and scheduling, finalization of the IT plan, and finally, execution.
The process should start with a discussion and interaction with all the possible stakeholders of an
IT plan - means the ones who will be involved in the planning, implementation, and usage of the IT
plan. Stakeholders must be fully involved in every step of the IT planning process.
You can conduct focus group discussions, interviews or disseminate employee surveys to collect information about stakeholders’ views on the current IT assets.
In this phase, it is crucial to research the current IT trends in your industry of operations, new emerging technologies and IT initiatives, and best practices that make IT operations effective in an enterprise.
After the collection of all this information, the next step is assessment. This phase will help in understanding what the organization’s existing IT capabilities are and what the gaps are. A gap analysis will assist in knowing what improvements are required in the organization’s IT assets to improve efficiency. These improvements may include up-gradation, replacement, or change, which also depends on the funding for the project.
Now, you can document all this information in a proper template for presentation to the top management. It must include all the possible scenarios and possibilities of strategic IT initiatives and the stakeholders’ comments on them. For each of the possibilities, the timelines, costing, and human resource requirements must be mentioned clearly. You must write a detailed plan with priorities set for each IT initiative along with the outcomes and funding requirements.
The last step is to present the IT plan to the top management for the necessary authorization. Obtaining the approval of top management is crucial since it gives access to the required resources and funding. The approval leads to confidence among the involved stakeholders, and they understand the significance of the IT plan. The IT plan may require some changes here and there, which must be incorporated, and the plan must be finalized.
Although the Guide to IT Planning completes at this stage, the on paper and execution is the next step; however, the IT plan may require changes during the execution stage. These changes erupt because of the changes in the economic landscape, industry scenario, emergence of new technologies and innovations, uncertain conditions such as a financial crisis or funding issues. You must ensure to keep track of all these changes and incorporate them in the IT plan for effective outcomes in the end.
Challenges of IT Planning
IT plan has a clear definition; still, you may face many challenges that may upset the process, increase the costs, or lead to undesired outcomes. Therefore, you must be wary of the possible challenges and make yourself ready with possible solutions to avoid delays or high expenses.
There might be a possibility that the company does not have a good leader for the IT department to conduct the IT planning. This is a big challenge for any company since it would be difficult for the top management to realize the source of the problem.
Confusion in priorities
There might be many changes or upgrades required in the IT infrastructure and assets in the queue. However, it is the responsibility of the CIO or the person responsible for IT planning to prioritize them based on the importance they hold for generating business outcomes and budgets. IT plan may suffer if the CIO is confused about what IT initiative to prioritize and what can be done later.
Lack of support from top management
It is crucial to obtain the top management’s support for the IT plan. They must also be involved at every step to show their interest and commitment to bringing IT transformation to the company. The support from top management leads to motivation among employees who start believing in the IT plan and contribute to its planning and execution wholeheartedly.
A disagreement between stakeholders on IT initiatives
Stakeholders’ views on the current IT capabilities and requirements of improvements are important to develop the IT plan. These stakeholders are the ones who will be planning, implementing, and using the IT plan. If there is no agreement amongst them regarding the bottlenecks, possible solutions, and priorities, it becomes difficult to formulate the IT plan.
No definition of key performance indicators
Once the priorities of IT initiatives are set, the CIOs must define the KPIs for each to review the performance. Such an evaluation of the outcomes is vital to understand if the particular IT initiative is successful or not and what the bottlenecks were in its success. If there are no KPIs defined, it becomes difficult to comprehend the outcomes of IT initiatives, and thereby, the success of the IT plan is doubtful.
Now, we understand what IT planning is, what its components are, how it is done, and the challenges faced in the IT planning process. With all this information, you are all set to engage in IT planning for your organization.
If not, you can still hire IT consultants that can take up the IT planning for your organization or guide you in each of these steps to make a strong, sustainable, and effective IT plan. However, you must be very careful with the selection of the right IT consultant that can help you make a realistic and realizable IT plan.
Our IT planning services
Technovisors is an IT planning expert. We are a leading IT strategy consulting services provider in Ahmedabad that helps you with IT Planning, scoping, budgeting, and implementing to reach your business goals. We assist you in making strategic decisions for your IT initiatives, including prioritization, resource allocation, time provision, and budgeting. We have the relevant technical skills, insights into industry trends, and experience with multiple industry verticals to guide you to make a sustainable IT plan.
About the Author
(CISA, FCA, CS, DISA (ICAI), FAFP (ICAI))
Pathik is a multi-disciplinary professional with more than 22 years of experience in compliance, risk management, accounting, system audits, IT consultancy, and digital marketing. He has extensive knowledge of Anti-Money Laundering rules and regulations, and he helps companies comply with legal requirements. Pathik also helps companies generate value from their IT investments.