The IT department often finds itself in a predicament when trying to meet organizational goals. On the one hand, general management wants to decrease spending, while on the other, departments are asking for new IT systems to help them realize their goals. To solve this dilemma, IT needs to produce its own strategic plan and link it to its portfolio, while tying it to the business’s strategy as a whole.

The IT Strategic Plan: A Shared Vision

IT should work together with the business to create a strategic plan that shares the business’ vision and goals. The plan should address the following questions:

  • What business unit level and corporate goals should be impacted by IT?
  • Conversely, what factors impact IT planning and investments?
  • What is the IT portfolio’s value proposition to the organization?
  • What role does IT play?
  • What are IT’s priorities?

By answering these questions, your plan will not only detail IT’s place in the organization, but it will also show you where the portfolio needs to be focused.

Linking the Strategic Plan to the Portfolio

Part of management’s job is to link the strategic plan to the IT portfolio (and to spending). To do this, management needs to first take the entire IT budget into consideration – not just projects and resource allocation – but all IT-related investments. With the full budget in mind, management needs to contemplate market conditions, the organization’s standing within the marketplace, current investments, and the company’s risk tolerance level. In addition, management must recognize that IT should be helping the organization boost revenue, productivity, customer satisfaction, and flexibility while decreasing costs.

1.Invest based on priorities.If a project benefits multiple goals, then proportionately allocate costs across those objectives.
2.Compare top-down goals to bottom-up ones.By looking at how management plans (top-down) and how projects are proposed (bottom-up), you can find planning disconnects and resolve them before they become issues.
3.Map out the portfolio to see what’s possible.Before taking action, see what your resources and capital can handle based on your potential projects.
4.Share your plan with stakeholders and management.This step is crucial to managing the goals and expectations of different business units. What projects will be delayed? What projects won’t be funded at all?
5.Obtain approval.Before you spend a single dollar, make sure management endorses your strategic plan and the way you intend to implement it. This step compels stakeholders to partner with IT, which is always beneficial.

Finding the Best of Both Worlds

The best plans will often seem to be going in different directions at the same time. If IT is aligned with the business’ strategy as a whole, those opposing directions will actually be offsetting each other in a good way, mitigating risk. For example, investing in new technologies will not immediately boost revenue, yet the investments are essential to future business progress.

It’s also important to remember that an IT portfolio should be judged much like a personal retirement portfolio: achievements should be based on the portfolio production as a whole and not on the success, or failure, of individual factors. As long as the portfolio is doing well overall, don’t stress too much over single points or areas that aren’t performing as well as others. As long as your portfolio is lined up with your organization’s strategy, you will realize the desired results.

Projility provides expert solutions for effective change. We offer enterprise portfolio and project management solutions based on Microsoft Project Server and Project Online, with tailored dashboard reporting, analytics, and decision-making tools via our Hammerhead technology. Projility also implements professional services automation systems established on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Project Service, and presents cloud-based strategies, migrations, and hosting solutions through Microsoft Azure. Contact us for more information.