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8 Keys for IT Planning in the New Year

Early in my career, I was fortunate to be taught the power of goal setting.  I’ve always loved the process of setting goals – starting with an idea, asking myself what the future could look like, creating specific goals that lead to the desired result, and then formulating an intentional work plan.  Often, the most ambitious of futures can be achieved through simple, direct tasks performed every day.

But it’s not just individuals who will benefit from goal setting…

Specific, actionable goals should also be set for your business as a whole, as well as each core department, including IT.

Whether you’re an IT manager who directly oversees the IT department, or a manager who oversees an outsourced IT firm, here are eight keys for setting technology goals in 2014:

1. Recognize the importance of the goal-setting process.

Every area of your business will be enhanced with intentional planning, but this is especially true of technology.  Technology innovation is happening at an exponential pace. That means the payoff from using new technologies can be huge – a single new application, an upgrade to move email to the cloud, or a new use of mobile, can each have a massive positive impact.  Equally true is the opposite risk of using stagnating technology. Simply working with an outdated business continuity strategy (such as rotating tapes), an aging server, or an application that is no longer supported, can easily bring your business to its knees.

2. Do your business planning first (if possible).

Technology exists to accelerate your business goals.  Therefore, the more you can articulate your future goals and what is important to your business as a whole, the more accurate and focused your IT goals will be.

3. Engage your IT partners in the process.

It is necessary to meet with your technology partners once a year, at minimum (better yet, as ongoing conversations), for the explicit purpose of reviewing where you are, and where you’re going. The technology partners can be simply an internal IT staff member or an outsourced IT firm. Their insights are not only critical to setting the right goals, but their “buy in” in the process is essential to the goals being implemented well.

4. Ask the right questions and focus on top priorities.

Technology doesn’t serve itself – it serves you and your staff.  So find out what priorities are important, and have they changed from last year?  Innovation isn’t innovation if it’s for its own sake.  It must drive the important priorities – reduced cost, increased business, increased productivity, better security, more peace of mind, better edge over the competition, increased leverage of your resources, etc. Let these focus points drive your goals.

5. Review your current technology.

How’s it working? How are your systems, software, and support personnel functioning? Are you getting the forward-thinking strategy, solidity of infrastructure, and effective support that you need to achieve your goals?

6. Set goals for the year ahead.

Craft achievable goals with clear milestones and objectives, based on the priorities of the business.  These goals should be driven by a combination of addressing current challenges, leveraging new technologies, and keeping infrastructure within supportable, cost-effective, stable ranges.

7. Give your plan teeth.

Once you have clear goals, create an implementation plan to achieve them.  This plan should provide clear action steps for the team members responsible to complete each task, including timelines or due dates.

8. Review quarterly.

“A law unenforced is a law never followed”. Likewise, goals that are set and never reviewed are typically goals that are never met.  Let your IT team know that you’ll be following up on their action items and review the goals at least quarterly.

Technology planning and goal setting can’t just be a one-time exercise; it must be ongoing and perpetual. We encourage our clients to continually plan for the future. We facilitate this through routinely scheduling meetings, budget reviews, recommending technology plans, and IT audits/technology reviews. In addition, we carry the weight of ongoing strategy for our clients by continually look for ways to help our clients increase their leverage, their security, their productivity, and their business continuity.

If you follow these steps as you begin this new year and make them a part of your ongoing business culture, you’ll be amazed by how much progress you’ve made. By the end of the year you will see the impact your planning has made – not only on IT, but your whole organization!

So let’s get started – contact Mainstay Technologies for a consultation.

– Ryan Barton, Mainstay Technologies