As we take our steps further down the evolutionary path of business, the IT strategy continues to emerge as a key performance driver and can be seen as a pillar of an organisation’s overall success. With the right IT strategy in place organisations have the ability to capitalise on emerging growth prospects, stay ahead of their competitors and create a great deal of value from IT – all while maintaining high levels of IT efficiency.
Where relevant, most organisations should already have an IT strategy in place. However, in order to experience the benefits, it’s not just as simple as –“Yes, we have an IT strategy!” We need to ask – “How effective is our organisation’s IT strategy”? Although it is seen as the responsibility of the CIO to create an effective IT strategy, this is a question that not only the CEOs and CIOs of a company should know the answer to, but all stakeholders. By engaging these stakeholders throughout the development of the IT strategy and taking the steps that follow into consideration, organisations have the opportunity to experience great technology-driven changes that will boost performance.
Step One – Aligning the IT and Business strategies
Kearns and Sabherwal (2007) (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2753/MIS0742-1222230306 pp 129 – 162) have noted that aligning the business and IT departments can create sustainable business value for an organisation. This is one of the key steps towards a strong IT strategy – aligning the IT department and its processes with the organisational goals of the business. It is important to assign an executive member (CIO) with the role of overseeing the IT department. The CIO’s role should include overseeing IT projects and aligning them with the overall organisational goals. When aligning these strategies together all stakeholders should be involved to evaluate the strengths and challenges of IT within the organisation and how these can affect the business goals.
Step Two – Identify your current level of IT maturity
In order to build and improve an effective IT strategy for your organisation it is important to know where your organisation is at in term of the utilisation of IT. Taking a holistic view, we must ask ourselves, how exactly are the current IT processes supporting the business? In order to answer this question key stakeholder’s need to recognise what’s working and what needs to change within the organisation.
One way we can do this is by using a structured process or assessment that aims to highlight the effective and ineffective areas of IT according to stakeholders and IT users. By engaging both the stakeholders and IT users we can identify the expectations of IT and whether the organisation is achieving these expectations or not. From there, your organisation can devise a plan to optimise the use of IT and increase the level of IT maturity.
Step Three – Exploring your IT maturity gap, the risks within it and how it can be improved
Once an organisation has identified their current level of maturity, the gaps between where they are and where they want to be, in term of IT, can be explored. Organisations will also have the ability to identify areas that could be preventing the cohesive alignment of IT and the business strategy. With this knowledge, we can work on closing the gap and identify future problematic areas and risks that the organisation could potentially experience. The risks that are identified can enable organisations to highlight opportunities to improve processes resulting in a more effective IT strategy overall.
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Following these steps are just some on the ways that will enable your organisation to build towards a more effective IT strategy, however, in order uphold the effectiveness of your strategy it’s important that it is regularly revaluated to ensure it remains aligned with the business goals and that your company is investing in the right technologies.