Knowing that you need a tech strategy and creating one are two separate things. Strategies help to align every action toward seeing your company succeed. Tech is so integral to business these days. If you don’t get your tech activities in line, you could be setting your business up for missed opportunities, wasted investments or worse. If you’re not sure how to do it, read on for some ideas about how to structure a tech strategy for your company.
Also known as an IT, digital or enterprise-level strategy, this is the top level of planning in your business. This strategy is the overarching guide for an entire corporation. It’s commonly used for businesses that have multiple offices, international outposts or complicated operations. This single strategy aligns every aspect of the business, and often focusses on the ‘big picture’ aims for the company. It should not be a complex or wordy document, but it does need to communicate the following:
Business context: situate your business in the global economy. What impact does it currently make – what is the reason for its existence (the problem it solves or works to solve)?
Overarching tech vision: how will IT and tech work to support that purpose?
Current landscape: outline what the operational challenges and opportunities are, including any regulatory restrictions or market developments.
Proposed landscape: the vision for how your company will impact/change the situation. Outline new systems, capabilities or programs. These may be a combination of client-facing systems, internal systems and back-end operations.
This document should be created by senior IT management and governance bodies within the business. Ultimately, this should aim to reduce the potential for goals and budgets to be made without an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the IT department. A feedback process that gathers information from floor-level staff may also yield insight.
This strategy should be accessible to management, as they will draw on it to create their own strategy documents. Some organisations benefit from making this information public, while others may need to withhold or redact sensitive data.
Department or business level strategy
The enterprise level document is great for steering the ship, but it’s unlikely to have enough information for those in the engine room. A business or department level strategy takes the guidance from the enterprise and translates it into tangible objectives for teams.
Each separate business or department will have its own strategy. It could include:
Operational guidelines: policies and procedures that keep performance uniform.
Technical details: guide staff toward actions that are derived from the enterprise level, overarching goals. Include forecasts, products, projects, new systems and updates.
Cultural norms: the expected behaviours and attitudes of the teams, chain of management.
Aspirations: motivating, overarching goals – the purpose and drive of the department
This should be created by the business or department management team. It will draw on the first document, along with a more technical understanding of the role of the department and the practicalities of implementation.
There are plenty of tangible benefits that come from this level of strategy creation. It’s great for cross-functional teams, because it can align people with separate responsibilities, maintain the focus on tech goals and foster a sense of communal ownership. It also helps to create a sense of uniformity and continuity. This can mitigate staffing changes and the tendency toward problem-solving creativity and autonomy.
Communication of the strategy can vary depending on requirements. Some information may be launched at a department-level presentation, or dispersed through emails or wikis. Teams should be able to access this information readily, to reinforce alignment between daily tasks and the larger goals of the organisation.
Departments often have different products operating at the same time, at various levels of development. Each dev team will have its own strategy about how to manage the product. The aim may be to complete a product and launch, roll one out, maintain a program or delete one.
The detail is this strategy will be specific to the product. It could include critical data, timelines and information critical for completion. It may include team norms and preferences, especially about testing and other related strategies. It will function to orient the team about the aim of the product and the projected outcomes.
In this case, the strategy may not be a singular document. It should be located centrally and referred back to often, as it will keep the product aligned with the goals of the department as outlined above. This level of strategy can be fluid and responsive to change, as long as the alignment is maintained. This dynamic guidance should be a working repository that is available to the team at all times.
This is the most micro level of strategy that your IT teams will engage with. To complete a product, there will be many smaller tasks or projects that will need to be completed. Each of these requires its own strategy. The complexity of these micro strategies will vary, depending on the task at hand. Something may need to be completed before the next stage can be worked on, or multiple segments may be created separately at the same time and then brought together in a coherent product. Think about tasks like testing code, or configuring a new network.
This level of strategy may be designed and communicated through a single meeting with the project team, or emailed out as a guide to tasks and individual responsibilities within the project. If there is more than one person working on the project, agree on team norms and behaviour, technical norms and expectations, deadlines and achievement specifications.
No matter the scope of the strategy, always outline the task at hand, while acknowledging the current landscape and challenges. The level of specificity about how the goals will be achieved will depend on the operational scale of the strategy. If every task is ultimately linked back to the global strategy, you’ll achieve alignment, efficiency and coherent action across the board.
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EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support establishing your IT tech strategy, or updating your current one, contact us today to see how we can help.