Plan your business IT systems

Develop an IT strategy

Guide

Technology is capable of disrupting industries and businesses. In order to succeed long-term, your IT systems - and your business - need to be able to develop and adapt to the changes around them. This is where a good IT strategy comes in.

What is an IT strategy?

Information technology (IT) strategy is a roadmap of a sort, helping you to align your IT projects with business priorities. It allows you to carefully plan for the long term and evaluate your IT needs and priorities before making an investment.

An IT strategy also helps you to:

  • plan for implementation of any new technology initiatives
  • keep control over the costs
  • mitigate the risk of IT failure and disruption to your business

How do you develop an IT strategy?

There are many approaches to developing an IT strategy for business. The main one involves a sequential process that gives you a detailed view of your IT requirements and a clear plan for meeting them.

Follow these simple steps to plan an IT strategy for your business:

  1. Outline your business strategic goals and objectives.
  2. Define the strategy's purpose, lifespan and stakeholders.
  3. Review existing IT systems and infrastructure for gaps or inefficiencies.
  4. Build an inventory and assess the life expectancy of your current technology.
  5. Carry out a technology needs assessment and define priorities for the next 3-5 years.
  6. Identify the technical capabilities you will need to support your business.
  7. Allocate budget, resources and consider how to align IT with your business strategy.
  8. Acknowledge your constraints and limitations - eg lack of skills or resources.
  9. Define exactly how you will implement new IT systems within your business.
  10. Set realistic timeframes and milestones for the technology projects.
  11. Create a framework for managing the system.
  12. Decide on key metrics and KPIs to monitor new technology over time.

Your IT strategy may need to change over time as challenges, opportunities and priorities shift. It's important that you review and adjust your IT strategic plan periodically.

Importance of having an IT strategy

An IT strategy, if done correctly, can drive growth and efficiency in your business. It can support your goals and your staff, ensuring that your technology investments deliver value for your business.

Through the UK government's Help to Grow: Digital Scheme, small and medium-sized businesses can access free, impartial online support about how digital technology can boost their business performance. If your business is eligible, you can also access a discount of up to 50 per cent towards the costs of buying approved software, worth up to £5,000.