In our daily lives, sometimes when things do not appear clearly visible to us, we squint or blink or even rub our eyes to try to get a better view. There are numerous reasons for blurred vision. One problem may be easily remedied by simply getting new reading glasses or changing the prescription in your current eyewear. However, if the problem is more complex, LASIK or cataract surgery may be another solution. Likewise, when someone is not “seeing” the stark reality in their personal life and seeing only optimistic and upbeat things, we often say they are “seeing the world through rose colored glasses.” In either case, seeing clearly should always be the goal.
In our business lives, seeing clearly should be the goal too. For executives and managers in today’s competitive and fast-moving marketplace, having a realistic and clear vision of how Information Technology (IT) can add value to their organizations is important as well. And it is important to put emphasis on both realistic and clear vision! How does one go about doing so? Here’s our approach on how to define an IT strategy vision for your organization. Due to the growth of digital technology in so many things, IT is ever more important in both internal and client-facing roles in every type of organization. Let’s also be clear that in this case, vision is much more about “how” structure and substance propels the organization’s mission.
How To Define an IT Strategy Vision for an Organization
Reflect: The first step we would recommend involves looking in the rear-view mirror, that is: reflection first, action second! Look back and do a review of the IT projects undertaken in the recent past. Determine the value each has delivered to the organization. Be critical and be fair. But remember, the best way to stay grounded and focused on plans going forward is to reconfirm the lessons of the past. Afterall, hindsight is 20/20!
Clarify: Assuming the overall organization’s mission is clear, the next step would be to define the role of IT in that mission. Strategically, where and how does IT fit? What gaps in the strategy can technology assist in filling? Ask your peers in various departments about their biggest challenges and then begin to see how computer technology can add value. Questions to ask include:
- Who are the key players on the IT team (inside and outside the department)?
- What are organizational barriers that may impede the progress of IT initiatives?
- Do current partners/vendors have the capabilities needed to move us forward?
- Is our technical staff adequately trained for key initiatives?
- What will the future needs be of critical departments that IT can assist with?
Begin to put together a plan for testing and then successfully rolling out new software applications and/or new hardware to facilitate the mission. Be sure that each investment has an adequate return all along the value chain—internal or external. Treat IT as a tool intricately intertwined not only with the organization’s strategy but, more importantly, in all its operations, especially the pieces that deliver the highest value.
Inspect: This is the action step where you examine your department/company and realistically determine if you have the budget, staff, bandwith and other resources to adequately deliver on the plan you have developed. Be as forward thinking as possible in this step, consider upcoming issues such as: competitive inroads, software end-of-life considerations and strategic partnerships that might be worth exploring.
Determine: Assess your IT budget, staff, capabilities (inside and outside) and resolve what you can realistically achieve in 2020. Tie each initiative/project to a concrete business objective and ensure you have a plan in place to measure the ROI of each. If benefits are not solely financial, be sure to list out all gains or advantages of each. Put specific staff and/or applications in place to measure the impact of each and how to change course if necessary. Your organization’s technology vision should be thorough, easy to understand, and fluid allowing for adjustments to be made as internal and external factors change. For complex organizations, you may want to seek advice or contract for support from a trusted professional in your industry to help you develop an IT vision that meets your needs. With a little forethought and strategic thinking, you can create a vision for your organization that is effective and sustainable.
Act: Time to turn vision into reality. You have done all the hard work, including the vision test to get the right Rx! The rose-colored glasses have been put away, and you can see clearly now how to move down the road.
Vision still a little blurry? Contact IT Radix and let us help you focus and set your sights on the horizon!
First published in our January 2020 IT Radix Resource newsletter