Future Matters: The Importance of Developing a Long-Term IT Strategy

March 19, 2019

Simplifying and thereby becoming more strategic with your IT is a multi-year, enterprise-wide effort that incorporates standardization, optimization, automation, and, as appropriate, virtualization and cloud migration of an organization’s infrastructure, application, and business process layers. The goal is to boost performance efficiently while mitigating compliance and security risks, facilitating new strategic capabilities, and freeing up budget for more strategic spending. You must modularize the simplification fixes, while recognizing that the solve on one part influences the simplification solve on other parts.

Why long-term IT strategy

By longer-term, HPA typically refers to a 3-5 year IT strategy horizon. Within a complex, legacy IT environment, simplification implementations are multi-year, and require choices around upfront design with modular, and agile delivery. Simply put, mapping out the modular pieces in advance ensures they fit together. Over time, it’s critical to replace legacy applications with end-to-end solutions involving minimal customization, while disentangling incompatible systems and processes across business units. Your IT strategy is in some ways a game of chess. You should always be ahead of the longer-term simplification by three or more moves, while anticipating the various complexities you might encounter via unforeseen systems integrations or future regulatory requirements. If you haven’t thought through the pieces longer-term, your near-term simplification efforts might feel like unrelated Whac-A-Mole moves.  Learn more about long-term simplification in HPA Partner Richard Berger’s The Key to Creating a Successful IT Strategy? Simplify. Simplify. Simplify

Typical objections to long-term IT strategy (and counterpoint)

Technology and IT solutions evolve quickly. The question is often asked, “Why plan your IT strategy and simplification efforts over the medium- and longer-term, when technology options in 3-5 years will be different from today?” One answer is that in mapping your three-year simplification and architectural direction upfront, you will align with key solution partners. Their technology will evolve, and you will evolve with them. If you’ve simplified to ensure best-of-breed components that work together, you will have options with their newer technology capabilities, without large re-implementations, particularly with SaaS and other cloud-based partners.  Additionally, if CIOs or CTOs wrongly simplify their IT environment by addressing one legacy application at a time, without the larger 3-year picture, they will miss the options that could replace 4-5 systems at once, leapfrogging entire systems groups and business processes with automation.

Other objections are often financially motivated. If the vast majority of IT spend today is devoted to Keep-the-Lights On maintenance and break/fix, as well as compliance-readiness, what is the purpose of building an IT strategy that one cannot fund?  Yet successful IT simplification will free up future budget for more strategic,enabling capabilities (and re-investment in other, higher uses in the firm). Without a view on that future budget reallocation, you will miss an opportunity to better enable the business and align with senior leadership. Business leaders who understand where you’re going as an IT organization may give a bit more leeway in the interim unraveling of the complexity snarl.

Develop a simplified, long-term IT strategy today

 HighPoint’s IT strategy leaders have worked in both the boardroom and the server room, and use their expertise to ensure our solutions are balanced, commonsense, and navigate emerging obstacles. If your company needs an effective IT strategy solution, our experienced team will design one that drives your overall business strategy. Contact HighPoint to start the conversation.