Strategic Planning for Information Technology

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Strategic Planning for Information Technology

Executive Summary
Strategic planning for information technology is one component of an overall company vision for success. This analysis enables IT professionals to successfully define short and long-term goals and discover the resources necessary to realize such goals. To ensure success, the strategic plan should be developed in a thorough but rapid manner, consist of a brief, succinct compilation of analyzed data, and provide opportunities by which additional planning and analysis can occur. Several important benefits occur as the result of a successful strategic IT plan. First, employees are provided with an understanding of how their role fits in with the overall company structure. Also, this planning allows managers to realize additional opportunities for growth and success. Finally, important relationships between technology investment and positive outcomes, such as increased market share, are revealed. In spite of these benefits, shortcomings of strategic planning do exist, involving the difficulties in implementing a new technology in a timely manner before other newer technologies reach the market place, the lack of qualitative information contained in the plan, and the sometimes overlooked component of human creativity. However, strategic planning remains an integral factor in any company's success and the lack of a strategy can result in hidden costs such as decreased revenue potential. A number of tools exist to facilitate strategic planning, including a Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis. This tool allows managers to assess the value of an investment over time, taking into consideration factors such as the strategic objectives of the analysis itself, measurement of costs and returns, the ways in which the analysis fits into overall business process and external environment, and political and organizational risk factors.

Strategic Planning for IT
Strategic planning is more a vision than a concrete plan. It encompasses what the company hopes to become and prioritizes the ways in which that vision will be realized. Strategic planning for information technology does not exist in a vacuum. It is but one part of an overall plan and should exist as an extension of business plan information technology fundamentals. This paper will discuss factors contributing to the success of strategic IT planning, the benefits and shortcomings of such a plan, reasons why some IT professionals may choose not to implement a plan and potential hidden costs associated with such a decision, and a model by which strategic planning can occur. In addition, Return on Investment analysis, an important tool in developing a strategic plan, will be discussed. The successful IT strategic plan is a combination of a vision for the future with a strategy for decision making that incorporates long and short-term goals, architecture necessary to achieve these goals, and any other hardware, software, communications equipment or applications needed (Lucas, 2004). An implementation schedule is developed for the new technologies under consideration, and resources needed, such as money, time, and staff are carefully analyzed. The successful strategic IT plan facilitates the management of requests for the CIO and the IT team, allowing those involved to quickly evaluate technologies against the plan and eliminate those not appropriate. Successful and effective strategic IT plans must also meet three criteria. First, development of a strategic plan should be a rapid process. Professionals should prioritize needs and outline key strategic questions to be answered. Typically a very small team comprised of the CIO and a few senior IT management personnel accomplishes this. Once the priorities are established, a larger team is formed of member representing the various IT departments and interests within the organization. The second criteria, completed by...
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