IT Strategic Plan template ST0001 (81 pages)
A comprehensive IT Strategic Plan template, including business cases for identified projects. This is an ideal starting point for companies that are wishing to create a IT Strategic Plan for the next 3 years.
How do you get more results from your information technology (IT) investments? The ultimate answer, of course, is to harness your IT portfolio and actions to the mission and business priorities of your agency. Smart IT strategic planning can transform enterprise business needs into results.
The rules of IT strategic planning are straightforward.
An IT strategic plan must be documented on paper, but the paperwork is not the heart and soul of strategic planning. The reality is that it must be alive in the consciousness and vision of all involved-from the agency head and CIO to all of the IT personnel, users, and other stakeholders. Everyone must know the destination and why they are headed there, and that living, actionable set of ideas is the real strategic plan.
Execution of the IT strategic plan makes a profound difference. Having sound project management processes and portfolio management methods have limited impact if not carried out within the framework of an effective strategic plan.
So, make sure that portfolios, projects, investments, and IT operations line up with a mission-driven information technology strategic plan. Here are our observations about critical success factors:
1. Align IT with the Enterprise
IT exists to enable agency mission and programs, and to support the accompanying business and performance requirements. IT often provides breakthrough opportunities for accomplishing business requirements better, faster, and/or cheaper. Conversely, opportunities for restructuring and streamlining agency programs and business functions often provide the basis for rethinking IT strategy, goals, and priorities.
Your alignment should involve matching IT spending with the IT Strategic Plan, annual performance plan and performance budget, and business-driven enterprise architecture. Performance objectives and measures should support metrics for enterprise-wide performance measures as reported by annual performance reports. We have found that alignment of IT with agency-wide performance measures is far from automatic and generally involves discussions with the agency's executive team and performance management staff. In some cases, the agency will need to add or refine IT measures. In other cases, IT performance measures will be subsets-supporting metrics that are logically traceable to agency goals.
2. Establish and Maintain Executive Sponsorship
Your IT Strategic Plan is an orphan unless it is sponsored, embraced, and used in decision making by agency leadership. Involve your enterprise executive team before you launch the strategic planning process, get their input, establish a charter, keep them informed, ask them to comment on drafts, and help them use the plan to achieve program and business performance results.
We have found that the day-to-day manager of the strategic planning process should have direct and continuing access to the CIO or Deputy CIO. Further, the manager needs resources (staff and presentation materials) to support the CIO when conducting ongoing discussions with the agency executive team.
3. Assess Needs and Opportunities
Input should come from all directions, sometimes known as a 360-degree assessment. Strategic planning should take into consideration opportunities, problems, and constraints. This involves keeping your eyes and ears open, because the most useful input comes from unexpected sources-perhaps personnel in a field office, user feedback, suggestions from the public, practices in other agencies, and technological change. Of course, it should include IT stakeholders as well. We have found that it is possible to build stakeholder participation into the routine, ongoing IT management support activities at modest additional cost. Given that almost everyone these days has too much work, stakeholders will appreciate your integrating discussions about the IT strategic plan into existing, scheduled meetings for users, project managers, integrated project teams, and others.
4. Commitment to Change and Action
The primary purpose of a strategic plan is to define and execute change. Achieving change requires the organizational equivalent of a political machine. You need a platform, a leader who serves as spokesperson, and a well-organized cadre of committed personnel who are willing to "stump" for support from all stakeholders. The planks in your "platform" will be your strategic goals for improvement.
5. Involve Stakeholders
Most people will be bored with strategic planning until they see what's in it for them. The place to begin will be listening.
6. Connect with Real IT
The real proof that an IT strategy is actionable is to apply it to real IT during the strategic planning process. The IT initiatives provide real-world grist for the strategic plan, and the IT investments benefit from a strategic approach that links functional requirements to an enterprise-wide vision of performance. Inevitably, pairing strategic planning with developing specific IT solutions leads to refinements and revisions to the IT strategic plan: The plan becomes more practical and tailored to real agency business needs and constraints.
Be flexible, because your initial strategic goals and planning drafts will seldom be your final IT strategic plan. When you brief your agency executive team and your stakeholders, they most certainly will-and should--challenge your initial strategic perspective. And someone you forgot to involve will point out a fatal omission or an unrealistic strategic objective, or they will tell you why your timetable for execution won't work. Do listen carefully, because their input may be on the mark. Being flexible and adjusting your draft goals and plan will gain at least two benefits: You will have a better plan, and you will gain broader buy-in from the people requesting changes.
8. Generate Excitement and Motivation
If you want action, change and results, the IT strategic plan must create excitement. This is a challenge because we all live in the midst of a deluge of paperwork. Whenever possible, we try to make the plan look and read differently from other documents. Clear writing devoid of technical and regulatory jargon helps. Action-oriented statements and an active voice is positive. Most important, make it sound like you've listened to stakeholders. Remember that the plan is not only a factual document; it seeks to sell and motivate action.
9. Integrate with Other IT Activities
Your IT Strategic Plan needs to be reflected in all aspects of IT management within your agency. You will need a review and alignment process to ensure that your overall management approach propels the agency toward the program and business results defined in the IT strategic plan.
10. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Completing your plan is just the first step in executing a process of strategic change. Once you have completed the plan, you need to make a splash with a “new product” introduction. Make announcements, conduct rollout events, put up posters, send e-mail, maybe even ask the CIO to do a web cast or teleconference. Brief your agency executive team.
11. Checking for Results
Before you launch your IT strategic plan, you need to have metrics of how you will monitor and evaluate results. Once implemented, you need to track results at least quarterly. In addition to process results, such as checking your strategic milestones, you need to be gathering data about program and business results. A major annual review should be conducted in collaboration with your agency-wide performance planning personnel and your agency leadership, with metrics providing indicators of IT support for agency program and business performance.
A goal will be to achieve a rollup of metrics: from individual IT investments, the IT portfolio(s) as a whole, program performance metrics, and agency-wide business performance. Additional dimensions can be a rollup of costs and IT benefits-tracking data in Cost Benefits Analyses and Operational Analysis Reviews as a means of estimating the overall investment quality of IT.
The Consulting Cloud IT Strategic Plan template will assist you to dvelop your IT Strategic Plan.
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