Starting an IT Strategy Plan: Suggestions for Simplification

The success of modern businesses is becoming increasingly reliant on the digital landscape. If you operate a website, it’s likely that you need IT services to keep everything in working order. You can make your digital operations even more efficient and cost-effective when you take things further to develop a comprehensive IT strategy plan.

As an example, your IT strategy should encompass cybersecurity measures to protect your data, infrastructure, and customer information. It may include cloud services for streamlined access to your operations. And every modern company must have disaster recovery protocols in place to restore your system and get back to work when tragedy strikes.

Some companies look to hire the best IT professionals in-house to develop their own strategy. Others work with managed IT services companies like NIC in just the capacity they need to get a greater range of capabilities at a lower cost.

How the Necessity of an IT Strategy Plan Came to Be

In the mid-1990s, when Muhammed Ali still had more nicknames than the Internet, most companies had rudimentary IT needs by today’s standards. Finding professionals who didn’t have a personal computer in their office or claustrophobic cubicle space was rare, but digital interactions with clients and close associates relied on a scant set of simplistic IT resources.

Basic email with fewer bells and whistles than a compact economy car, large footprint data storage with minimal redundancy, fixed network security that stayed stronger for longer in an era when cybercrime forced less innovation, boxy hardware that gave technicians a workout when they migrated it to new locations in the office, and applications whose interfaces were reminiscent of old Atari graphics were staples of what companies called IT environments.

Business interactions occurred within local area networks (LANs) that were nestled within wide area networks (WANs), as they do today, but sales and service activity was largely conducted offline. Businesses “nurtured” prospects via email, but an IT strategy plan that was a best-practice IT strategy example was less necessary for success. At the time, a simple IT strategy plan wasn’t just a goal, it was a reality of having only simple IT at your disposal.

Simplifying the Documentation of a Plan

Technology makes things simpler and more efficient to the degree that it becomes more sophisticated. “Sophisticated” doesn’t always mean “complex”, but explaining sophisticated technology without the complexity of tedium is always a challenge. It is a challenge that companies face when they document the resources and processes of a new IT strategy plan.

Most companies need to document their IT plan to the extent of defining “why” each plan element is needed, as distinguished from defining “what” each element actually is. For example, you need to establish why a network security solution is required. In doing so, you inherently define what the solution is to the degree that it satisfies your requirement — and the definition of a solution in the most specific sense (the characteristics that establish its identity within the market) is already contained in documentation from the developer.

IT that uses minimal space, energy, and materials at a high rate of return is described as “lean”. Extrapolate that concept for the documentation of your plan, and try to make it lean on paper. This makes the plan easier for new employees to understand. It also makes the plan easier to reference and amend by not besieging it with specificities that don’t contribute to the level of understanding you aim for in the documentation.

Turning technical writing into an English lesson is an exercise in obfuscation, but an elegantly simple IT plan doesn’t align with documenting the plan in a style that’s elegantly sententious.

Planning and Execution: Consultant or Not?

The need for an IT consultant to provide an IT strategy example for the development of an IT plan, or having a consultant literally develop the plan, was once clearer than it is today. IT is so ubiquitous to company operations that most departments have a basic idea of what might work for their needs, and why, but broad knowledge of a specific business IT niche and industry expertise are different things.

There are three situations in which it’s wise to at least use a consultant as a sounding board for the development of a plan: when you’re starting a business for the first time, starting a business for the first time in a particular industry, increasing the scale of an existing business (such as going from local to regional), and when expanding business to a new market.

In deciding whether you need a consultant, consider that a consulting relationship is similar to a personal relationship in two ways: it can have various degrees of depth, and it can involve a various number of needs. What you get from a consultant could range from a framework for an IT plan that could be called an “IT strategy example” to full-fledged implementation and maintenance, right down to the desktop you use and the apps it receives from a cloud.

This naturally brings up the question of whether companies that need a consultant should choose one that simultaneously serves as a provider, supplying and deploying the resources that comprise the IT strategy plan.

Further Simplification: The Consult-Provider

Plan development swiftly followed by implementation, with no consulting knowledge lost in translation, is the main benefit making the consultant the provider. If a package deal is on the table, the arrangement can be financially rewarding, too. Some added bonuses are that you have fewer business relationships to maintain, and your consultant and provider don’t have problems connecting.

The scope of most consulting relationships and third-party provider relationships is determined by the same thing: the degree to which a client can develop and implement a plan without the help of a consultant and a provider, respectively. There are also times when a company is quite capable of handling planning and execution, but outside help is enlisted because in-house staff is busy with other tasks. The key is for companies to get help when and how they need it.

Knowing when help is needed usually isn’t an issue. Startups tend to rightly assume they need help from the start, and most existing companies realize when they can’t serve themselves well enough. Following through and receiving help “how” it is needed is more of a problem. And behind that problem is often this one: a valid concern — saving money — fosters the perception that the cost of failure wouldn’t be as high as the price of success, so to speak.

In reality, IT self-help can result in something worse than unequivocal failure for most companies: mediocrity. Failure tends to force change or eventual dissolution, but mediocrity can be perceived as a level of success, and cause a company’s bottom line to remain forever underwhelming. Working with a consultant-provider helps companies quickly move from creating an IT strategy plan to implementing it, which is always the best scenario.

Contact NIC Today to Get Started

Whether you need to develop an IT strategy plan for a new business, or you require a new plan that reflects your business’s changing needs, the experts at NIC can help. Contact us, and work directly with experts to develop the ideal IT strategy for the needs of your business.

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