IT leaders are constantly challenged to leverage all elements of technology, resources, and funding to maintain IT’s alignment to changing business requirements. To deliver value to the business, many organizations develop detailed strategic plans and roadmaps designed to guide the IT department toward a desired future state.
IT strategic plans are vital for every IT organization, but even the best engineered strategies are at risk of irrelevance if they don’t adapt as technology platforms, service delivery models, and “best practices” continue to evolve at an accelerating rate.
Opportunities for strategy adjustment can manifest themselves in many ways. At one end of the spectrum are major, unexpected issues that can cause significant business harm if not managed correctly including outages, radical business direction shifts, new regulations, or economic factors. On the other end of the spectrum are new technologies and processes that can create immense value if adopted, but in many cases the IT organization may not even know that they exist. In the middle are regular course of business optimizations that must be managed to ensure continuity including end of life technology, contract renewals, and personnel turnover.
To provide awareness of these issues and opportunities, and to maintain relevancy and progress against the IT strategic plan, leading IT managers should regularly conduct IT assessments or IT audits. Tailored to the specific needs of your organization and industry, the IT assessment should evaluate trends, performance, issues, costs, new models, and peer alignment across the following areas:
- Emerging technology – e.g., Cloud, Big Data
- IT security and vulnerability
- IT infrastructure
- Data center
- Network infrastructure
- Disaster recovery and business continuity
- Application portfolio, architecture, security, risk, and controls
- Skills and IT organizational model
- Alignment to business strategy
- Sourcing strategy
- IT Service management
- ITIL Maturity
- Contracts and SLA performance
- Costs, budgets, and spend levels
In some cases, these assessments can be conducted with internal resources during bi-annual or annual IT department health checks and IT strategy revisions. Sometimes, it’s critical to get an outside-in perspective on existing IT strategy and capabilities to inject new ideas and challenge the status quo. Organizations constantly need to re-invent themselves otherwise existing processes may become ossified and an impediment to innovation.
In cases where there are such larger concerns, it is essential to engage an experienced advisor to conduct the assessment to provide an objective, 3rd party perspective, and formal fact-based comparison to leading models and current best practices.