Every business should have clear goals and assuming you have shared those goals with the rest of your business (if not why not?), then every department should be aligning their strategies with the overall business goals, IT is no exception to this, in fact I see that IT is usually core to unlocking the potential of each and every goal.
Below are a few ways for business leaders and IT managers to make sure their IT Strategy is aligned with the business goals
1. Communicate Priorities
This sounds obvious but make sure you communicate what exactly your aims are this month/quarter/year. An IT department will usually have a backlog of fixes, enhancements or new features that have been requested from the wider business. Help your IT department prioritise that workload by making them aware of your immediate, short & long term goals for the business.
You would not want your developers working on a new feature for Website A when your business goal is to increase user engagement on Website B.
Don’t be afraid to ask your IT Team why they have chosen one piece of work over another, if the answer is “I don’t know” or “because that person shouted loudest” then you have a clear priority issue and IT is not as effective as it could be.
2. Analyse & Feedback
Your business will create lots of data, whether that’s how well your products are selling, the time it takes to quote a customer, the number of complaints you have received or maybe even how many sick days your staff are having off each year. Whatever that data is, you can bet someone in your IT team has access to it.
Make sure that you have the proper tools in place (speak to your IT team) that let you analyse that data and produce meaningful conclusions from it. Very rarely are business goals a simple yes/no piece of information on a single day, usually they are something that can be measured over time and you can see how far you are from achieving your business goal.
Use your conclusions to feedback on your progress towards your goal and keep tweaking your efforts to make sure the goal is met.
3. Embrace Technology
Technology is a great enabler and provides new ways to do task you have been doing for years.
For example, if one of your goals is to simply have more contact with your customers, then you may look to increase your current methods of phonecalls, emails or maybe even face to face meetings. But in this day and age you will almost certainly find them on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook or maybe they hang out on Minecraft or are avid users of Instagram! Keep an eye out for emerging technology your customers may be using. Or maybe you are aiming to sanitise your customer data within each organisation you work with, you could look to perform a huge round of cold calling or maybe buy a list from somewhere, but what about having your customer portal pop up a simple “is Mr Smith still at your organisation?”, to let your customers sanitise your data for you.
Technology can offer you new ways to solve old problems. Ask your IT team how they would do it!
4. Involve IT from the beginning
I truly believe that gone are the days where IT is seen as an outside resource which can be called upon when needed.
Ensure to include someone who has a complete understanding of you current IT capabilities and more importantly has the vision to see how improving your IT capabilities could take your business forward.
Involving IT at the planning stage will do more than just sanity check that your Goal is achievable, they will be able to propose things you never may never have even dreamt of. Let’s say you have a process that takes 3 weeks to complete, that could be bringing a new customer on-board, or implementing a new pricing structure across multiple stores. A good IT Manager/CTO (or whatever their job title is) could propose to speed up that process to less than 30 seconds, this might sound like wishful thinking but that is now a requirement for many startups that deliver mobile apps or SaaS (Software as a Service) and is already happening today!
The earlier you involve IT the more impact they will have on your business.
5. Invest in your IT Team
A final point is one of how a business leader looks at their IT Team. If your team are under resourced and spend the majority of their time keeping the lights on then don’t be surprised when they are not able to help you complete your business goals.
Don’t be afraid to look at your IT Team and ask yourself if they are delivering the above 4 basic requirements to help complete the businesses goals. If not then speak to your managers and ask them what you can do to help.