How to Take your Business Strategy into High Gear with IT Consulting

The past few years have left IT leaders grappling with disruptive change. The global economic downturn stopped many companies from investing in technology. Mergers and acquisitions have resulted in ill-matched technologies from various legacy systems, and vendors are consolidating at a rapid rate.

Moreover, the pandemic has created a “new normal” of working from home which has increased online sales, forcing businesses to improve their technological capacities. While cloud computing and software-as-a-service have reduced costs, they’ve also raised security concerns and increased the complexity of IT strategies.

Now, more than ever, you need a blueprint to help you wade through the intricacies of technological innovation. How can you devise a strategy and a roadmap that will propel your business into the future?

IT strategy: 7 steps to creating your IT roadmap

A competitive company needs an IT strategy to steer its IT resources in the right direction. This is best done with a concise plan that outlines how you can use technology for business development. 

The driving force behind IT strategy is the IT roadmap which lays out how the technology investment will feed into your company’s growth. It steers the teams’ action plan while keeping executives informed of progress and justifying costs.

An IT roadmap helps your company design the right technology that matches your business goals and guides it in implementing technological improvements effectively.

So what are the main steps to follow when building your roadmap?

1. Clearly define your strategic objectives

It’s hard to adapt and grow if you are unsure of your end goals. Early on, you must develop a clear picture of the financial and operational impact you would like to achieve. 

You can start by answering the following questions:

  • How can I improve my customer experience and deliver more value?
  • What information and tools would increase efficiency, reduce effort, and help my team members become more proactive, responsive and insightful? 
  • How can I make it easier for customers to conduct business with my company?

2. Think long term

Investing in IT solutions that only address immediate needs can lead a company to duplicate its efforts. Additionally, the short-term investment often brings limited benefits and bloated costs. 

As customers today expect technology to deliver seamless and consistent experiences, it makes sense to invest in a technology infrastructure for the long-term.   

3. Assess your functional needs and priorities

Sorting out your priorities will help you properly assess your options and make effective plans. You can proceed by taking the following steps:

  • Review your current business processes and look out for inefficiencies
  • Take stock of technology gaps
  • Identify functional capabilities that can improve your processes
  • Come up with an itemized checklist

4. Measure the cost

Technology initiatives demand a lot of capital and without proper planning, expenses can spiral out of control. Make sure you include a well-researched cost estimate for each project in your roadmap. Take into account ongoing costs and leave a buffer for unexpected ones. 

5. Set realistic timelines

Painstakingly prepared plans can fall apart. This is because the people involved can be overwhelmed by the time-consuming and complex goals and tasks. You can prevent this by creating realistic timelines and schedules for every project. 

Break down tasks into smaller action points and assign a deadline and personnel for each of them, considering available resources, possible constraints and the ability to execute.

6. Organize an IT steering committee

Clashing individual opinions and departmental demands are inevitable, making it a challenge to build consensus around an IT roadmap. To address that problem, it’s advisable to set up an IT steering committee made up of leaders from key departments. Its job would be to facilitate communication and monitor project progress against the roadmap milestones. 

7. Leverage external resources

A well-defined IT roadmap allows companies to create more value out of business operations. The pressure to keep up with day-to-day operational demands and fast-changing market trends means many companies are unable to allot time for building an ideal IT infrastructure. 

One way around these limitations is to leverage external resources, which is a very useful way to relieve your in-house staff of the strategy’s extra workload. By hiring IT consulting provider, you can tap into specialized knowledge and expertise that may not be available in your company, thus avoiding expensive mistakes. 

→ Explore IT Consulting: What to Expect and Why Your Business Needs It

IT consultants will conduct analysis sessions and work closely with key personnel and executives. They will make a thorough study of your existing infrastructure and gain an understanding of your company’s vision and growth plans. Their technological solutions will cater to your specific needs and desired business outcomes.

Benefits of a tailored IT strategy

When rethinking a technology infrastructure, IT leaders tend to turn to thought leaders outside the company for guidance. Often, they end up with generic advice on IT strategy that does not take into account the unique circumstances of the company. 

While generic nuggets of wisdom have their benefits, they won’t be able to help your company rid itself of operational inefficiencies, product limitations and technology gaps.

IT consultants, on the other hand, examine your company, incorporate your business objectives, determine what needs to be done to fulfill those objectives, and set out a timeline and cost estimate. You get an expertly tailored IT strategy that offers the following advantages:

  • Keeps IT costs competitive or below industry benchmarks
  • Maintains or exceeds your company’s product or service quality standards
  • Ensures compliance with regulatory, risk, security and privacy policies
  • Deepens your understanding of your enduring business needs and priorities
  • Anticipates and prepares for shifting internal demands
  • Maintains a high level of engagement and transparency with internal clients
  • Establishes and maintains effective contractual arrangements and partnerships with technology providers
  • Maintains the ability to scale services up or down, integrate new acquisitions and implement new initiatives
  • Remains an early adopter of technologies that are in line with your company’s business agendas
  • Develops new products and services that match your organization’s purpose

Customer experience and innovative tech as part of strategic development

To keep up with the evolving business landscape, you must regularly recreate and update your strategic plan. Take a moment to consider where you’d like the company to be in the future and what you need to do to get there.

Strategic planning helps you focus your energy and resources on the right priorities. It helps ensure all stakeholders are working towards common goals.

To remain relevant, organizations need to keep up with changing demographics and technological trends and advances. The battle for customers’ attention is ongoing and it can mean life or death to many companies. Your business strategy must address expansion into new markets, as well as product development, talent acquisition, and technological investment.

To ensure the success of your strategic plan, your company must be willing to let go of outdated processes and adopt innovative technology, as well as to make any other necessary change that will benefit your business in the future. 

Today, customers want to interact with businesses through multiple channels, including websites, mobile apps and social media. They expect flawless and convenient interactions or they quickly look elsewhere.

The ubiquity of affordable mobile devices has made it possible for companies to use real-time data to foster useful communication with customers, track performance and optimize resources. Technology trends like the Internet of Things (IoT) provide a competitive advantage that attracts customers and determines the winners in the marketplace.

Why you must align your IT strategy with your business strategy

Business leaders tend to focus on business strategies, treating IT strategy as a separate or secondary element. This results in technology investments that don’t support business targets or fail to provide a return on investment (ROI). 

Our modern world has extended the roles of IT beyond the automation of routine tasks. IT solutions optimize key business functions like resource management, supply chain management and customer support services. Your IT strategy needs to be more than an afterthought. . .

Clearly, your technological solutions must synchronize with your business goals. But why? Here are several reasons: 

  • Delivery of products and services improves
  • Risk management increases
  • Decision-making is driven by analytics
  • Costs are reduced
  • Workflow is optimized

Aligning your IT strategy with your corporate objectives means your company can increase business productivity, tap into new opportunities and generate profit from the technology investment. It’s your pathway to a competitive advantage. 

The bottom line

An actionable IT strategy is not about winning an innovation race or chasing the next shiny thing. It answers the question: ‘how can technology support my business needs?’ You know you’ve achieved IT-business alignment when your systems and apps are contributing to business growth.

IT leaders face the Herculean task of keeping up with technological advances, ensuring protection against cybersecurity threats and reducing errors and mishaps — all while spending less. As a result, they are tempted to relegate innovative tech to the backburner. For this reason, many businesses that are serious about fueling their business expansion with new technology choose to work with an IT consulting firm. It allows them to focus on the endeavor and minimize mistakes that can blow costs out of proportion.

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