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Why There Are Two Layers to Strategic I.T. Planning?

There are two layers to Strategic I.T. Planning: The Business Layer and The Technical Layer. The Business Layer is built top-down: starting with The Strategic Business Plan and building down into a Strategic I.T. Plan. The Technical Layer is built bottom up: starting with the technical landscape and bridging up to The Strategic Business Plan. The Business Layer of your I.T. Strategy must position your information technology department to effectively address the business needs of today and the business needs of tomorrow. The Technical Layer ensures that the department's systems and infrastructure have the architectural integrity to adapt to, and scale with, the business.

The Business Layer

The information technology department must be positioned to support The Strategic Business Plan's goals and objectives. The following questions kick off the process of building a Strategic I.T. Plan.

  1. Does the information technology department sufficiently support our competitive strengths, address our competitive weaknesses and capitalize on our market opportunities?
  2. Do we have a risk management plan for our competitive threats? If the threats are realized, how would they impact our business processes and technology landscape?
  3. Which business processes are most directly impacted by our forward looking business strategy? How will the required business process changes impact our systems and infrastructure?
  4. For each business objective, is there a gap between our technical capabilities and the capabilities required to meet the business' goals? What is the most effective way to bridge the gaps between the business' vision and our technical capabilities?
  5. Given our goals and objectives, which changes do I need to make from a department structure, personnel, project portfolio, financial and/or business partner perspective?

Business executives are primarily interested in The Business Layer of The Strategic I.T. Plan because the connection between The Business Layer and The Strategic Business Plan is clear. Funding is most easily won for information technology initiatives that are clearly tied to business strategy. Although The Business Layer of the Strategic I.T. Plan is more clearly tied to The Strategic Business Plan than The Technical Layer, The Technical Layer takes a different approach to achieving the same results. The Technical Layer is a technology driven approach, rather than a business driven approach, to creating sustainable information technology systems.

The Technical Layer

Planning The Technical Layer of I.T. Strategy is a bottom up planning exercise which starts with the technology landscape and bridges up to The Business Strategy. The Technical Layer must clearly demonstrate how increased flexibility and scalability in the organization's systems and infrastructure supports the revenue growth and profit maximization plans of strategic initiatives across the organization. In order to drive revenue growth, business leaders launch products in market segments in which the business is less knowledgeable about customer needs. Consequently, the information technology department's technology must have the architectural flexibility to meet, and adapt to, customer needs as they are discovered. The Technical Layer of The Strategic I.T. Plan sets the goals and objectives for improving the adaptability and scalability of the technology landscape; so the business can more effectively market to, sell to and service customers in constantly changing environments. Futhermore, increasing revenue requires more prospects, more customers and more products. As data requirements increase, the scalability and data capacity requirements of information technology systems increase as well. The Chief Information Office or manager of the information technology department must work with senior information technology leaders to identify and prioritize information technology goals that directly address the gaps between the business' future needs and the technical capabilities of the technology landscape. Strategic I.T. Planning and Strategic Business Planning have the same purpose: identify the strategic goals and objectives that drive sustainable operations and sustainable growth, and plan for the initiatives that support that purpose.

Copyright © Devon Manelski