Written By: Contender Solutions
Many businesses can set IT goals easily enough, but still struggle to meet those goals when the time comes. Setting an information technology strategy plan can be an enormous endeavor, one that requires a comprehensive understanding of how to align IT goals and objectives with the business’ goals.
What are some IT goals and objectives examples that your company could use to fill out its strategic IT plan? More importantly, how can you ensure that your IT dept. goals are aligned properly with your business’ goals to promote organizational agility?
What You Need to Do BEFORE Establishing Your IT Goals and Strategy
Prior to establishing IT goals that align with business objectives, it’s important to lay the appropriate groundwork. Some key steps include:
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is how an organization identifies and organizes their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats into a list that they can then use to better leverage their advantages while minimizing their risks.
This may require you to assemble people from the entire organization to get different perspectives on what your business does (or doesn’t) do well and where there may be opportunities for improvement.
Running a SWOT analysis helps you understand where you can shore up your IT strategy so it can help you meet your business’ goals.
Perform an IT Audit
What IT resources does your company have at its disposal? Part of creating an information technology strategic plan that will be effective is knowing what IT assets you have and which ones you need to meet your goals.
Performing an IT audit to identify all of the resources you have can be useful for creating a map of your IT infrastructure. Using this resource, you can identify key technology gaps that are keeping you from meeting your business goals or unneeded redundancies that are draining your IT budget.
Review Past IT Budgets
How much has your organization spent on IT in the past? What was the IT budget spent on? What was the ROI from those past IT initiatives?
Reviewing your company’s past IT budgets can be critical for setting expectations of what you should spend on a new strategic IT plan.
Additionally, looking over past IT expenses and the ROI they generated may be helpful for presenting a business case for your new IT strategy to other decision-makers in the business (such as a CEO, the Board, or other C-suite execs) to get buy-in from them.
Why Is It Important to Set Realistic Goals for Your IT Team?
For any kind of business goal, it’s important to have some kind of goal setting framework in place (like SMART, OKRs, BHAG, etc.). In most of these frameworks, there is a specific requirement to set goals that are realistic or achievable.
Why is it important to set realistic goals? As noted by Robert Half, “setting unrealistic goals can have a negative impact on employees and the business.” Some of the negative impacts noted in the article include:
- Missed delivery dates;
- Reduced work quality;
- Cost overruns; and
- Increased employee turnover.
These impacts can affect the IT team just as easily as any other business unit. Worse yet, missed IT goals can have a negative effect on the rest of the business as other teams struggle with a lack of IT tools to use for their own workflows.
So, it’s important to make sure that your IT goals and objectives are realistic and achievable—even when they’re a bit aggressive.
5 Examples of IT Goals and Objectives
What are some IT goals and objectives examples that you could use for your own organization? While your specific needs may be different from that of other organizations, some common objectives for IT include:
Reducing IT Compliance Risks
Some organizations focus on protecting the estate by looking at their cybersecurity compliance and addressing specific gaps. This is a general objective that can be made more specific and timely by identifying the exact gaps that need to be fixed, prioritizing them by their likelihood and potential impact, and then establishing a timeline for making the needed security fixes.
Reducing IT Costs by X% or $Y for Z Year/Quarter/Month
Finding opportunities to cut unnecessary costs is often a good way to free up resources. This, in turn, can help to increase business agility by increasing the resources (such as liquid capital) available for taking advantage of new business opportunities.
Improving Turnaround Time for Change Requests by X%
The time it takes for IT to implement a change request can have a major impact on other business units. So, improving turnaround time for these requests can be an important IT goal. However, it’s crucial to take into account the inherent variability of change requests—some may be faster to accommodate than others.
Streamline IT Solutions to Improve Business Workflow Efficiency by X%
The software, hardware, or cloud solutions used by different business units can have an enormous impact on the business’ overall ability to respond to changing situations or complete work efficiently. So, many organizations focus on streamlining or reworking their IT solutions to improve workflow efficiency.
Standardize IT Solutions Across Different Business Units
When different business units use separate IT solutions and processes, it can create business silos that make it harder to collaborate and be agile. Standardizing IT solutions as much as possible across all business units can help to streamline collaboration and make it easier to complete projects that require multiple departments to work together.
4 Tips for Aligning Your IT Strategy with Your Business Objectives
1. Consult with ALL Stakeholders, Not Just the IT Team
As noted by CIO.com, it’s important to “talk to your counterparts in marketing, product, etc. to understand factors that may impact you and your ability to set or meet a goal.” These stakeholders may have valuable insights into how systems are used or the various IT dependencies that already exist since they use these resources every day.
Also, making changes to IT systems and processes without consulting the users of those IT resources may have a negative impact. It can lead to confusion that slows down business processes and reduces agility instead of increasing it.
2. Review Your Overall Business Strategy and Long-Term Business Goals
To align IT goals with business objectives, it’s important to first review what those business objectives are. Understanding the main objectives of the business can help to inform IT efforts so they can support progress towards those goals.
3. Assess the Current IT Environment and Identify Gaps
As noted before, having a complete map of your organization’s IT assets (including software, hardware, and cloud solutions) can be invaluable for creating an IT strategy.
Additionally, by comparing that IT map to your business’ goals and processes, you can identify key gaps between the IT resources you have and what you need to drive progress towards your biggest business goals.
4. Verify Your IT Budget
How much is available for the IT budget to act on IT goals and initiatives? How much would specific initiatives cost? Is there room for dealing with unplanned emergencies?
To avoid creating a resource drain that detracts from the business, it’s important to verify the budget available for IT and to minimize the risk of cost overruns in your strategic IT plan. This way, you can avoid overcommitting resources and creating logistically impossible IT goals.
These are just a few of the ways that an organization can create an information technology strategy plan that aligns with its overall business objectives.
If you need help aligning IT with other business units to create a truly unified strategy that enhances your ability to adapt to new opportunities and challenges, reach out to Contender Solutions.