Developing It Strategy

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Developing an Information Strategy Plan

Developing an Information Strategy Plan is the first stage in an overall IT development process that continues with the implementation of that strategy.

Strategic Planning

Before looking at how to develop an Information Strategy Plan, it is worth considering what strategic planning involves and why it is important for organizations to have an Information Strategy Plan. Strategic planning goes to the heart of what an organization does, why it does it, how it does it and where it is going. It aims to provide a total understanding of the functions of the business, as well as a map for its future. Strategic planning addresses a number of basic questions:

• What business are you in?
• Where are you now?
• How did you get here?
• Where do you want to be in the future?
• How are you going to get there?

We have split strategic planning into two elements:

1. Business Strategy Planning
2. Information Strategy Planning.

Business Strategy Planning

Business strategy planning can be defined as the process that your organization employs to make decisions about its business direction. If your organization has no formal written business strategy plan, it is critical that you elicit information from senior managers, and read company documents, to clarify what the organization’s broad business goals and objectives are. The directors and senior managers may have inconsistent and possibly conflicting ideas about the organization’s business strategy. But if time is taken to discuss the business strategy at the beginning, a consensus can emerge which can be used as the starting point for the Information Strategy Plan.

Information Strategy Planning

Information strategy planning deals with the whole ‘information resource’ of an organization - that is, the information it generates and receives, and the systems it uses to do so. This includes basic raw data, information that has been analyzed and is used to make decisions, and the systems and computer technologies that deliver the information. Information Strategy Planning also examines how these systems relate to the organization’s general business environment.

Organizations often find themselves spending an ever-increasing proportion of their resources on Information Technology. It is therefore vital that this expenditure is planned carefully so that it meets the organization’s business needs.

In general, organizations can choose to adopt a leading edge approach to IT investment, for instance by being the first company among their peers to implement a particular IT system. Or they can opt for a more ‘conservative’ approach, by waiting until systems are common among similar businesses. In either case, having an information strategy plan will help to ensure that they get the most out of their investment.

Integration of information strategy planning with business strategy planning

If the Information Strategy is based on the Business Strategy, your business managers will gain a greater understanding of the potential of IT systems. Linking the two strategies will also help IT staff improve their understanding of the organization’s business needs. In this way the potential of IT systems to support the needs of the business will be much improved.

Aligning the two strategies is both a challenge and a learning process. Once your business has created the organizational capability and infrastructure to formulate the strategies they will then learn to increase the overlap between the two.

Information Strategy Planning also needs to be integrated with other aspects of your business strategy planning as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 - Integration of information strategy planning
with other aspects of business planning

For example if your company is planning to develop new areas of business, or to...
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