IT strategic planning: a personalized approach with safeguards

Compare the technology plans of various organizations quite meticulously and you will find that no two are the same. Many are typewritten; others only exist in the minds of IT staff. Some are brief, others detailed. They address distinct business issues and goals. They even have different names: one group’s digital transformation strategy is another’s IT roadmap.

But no matter what you call it (we believe in the “strategic plan”), the purpose of these documents is the same.

“An IT strategic plan aligns an organization’s technology platforms, processes, resources and goals with its mission, vision and business goals,” said Dave Coriale, president of DelCor. “Don’t focus too much on the models or the artifact you’re creating. Value is in the activities that occur to create it – the conversations you have, the connections you make, and the education you provide.

Understand association-wide goals

The first step in developing a strategic plan is to understand your association’s goals across all departments. “Without this understanding, you can’t have an IT plan aligned with organizational goals,” Coriale said.

While IT teams typically lead strategic planning processes, creating them in a vacuum is never a good idea. Instead, the goal is to provide guidelines that align technical resources with the business requirements of your association as a whole.

“An IT strategic plan helps organizations avoid piecemeal solutions aimed at addressing individual staff needs, a practice that rarely translates into a cohesive long-term IT ecosystem,” said Jeff Merrill, director of managed services at DelCor.

Coriale recommends that IT teams keep departmental conversations simple. “Approach every business unit in the organization and just talk to them about what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “Stay at a high level and discuss key business requirements that need to be supported by technology.”

The initial goal, Coriale said, is to complete a version of the plan with enough information to be usable by early adopters, who can then provide feedback to inform future iterations.

“We in the nonprofit community tend to want things to be perfect before we say they’re ‘done,'” he said. “But over the past 10 years, the industry has shifted to an agile development and management framework focused on the minimum viable product (MVP). Once you’ve reached the minimum viable version of your IT strategic plan, you can continue to use it.

Evaluate current and future states of technology

After determining cross-cutting goals, define the current state of your association’s technology. Include an overview of the technology ecosystem. How many systems are implemented in the organization and which business units own them?

“As you develop your IT roadmap and strategy, you’re going to find consolidation opportunities where it makes sense, providing more integration and a simpler IT ecosystem for the organization,” said said Coriale.

Also consider technology-dependent aspects of your current organizational strategy, such as your cybersecurity culture. “Don’t just focus on technology that helps protect your organization from cyberattacks and leave out professional development, which is an HR function, or organizational culture, which involves leadership,” Coriale said. “It’s all part of the conversation you should be having about the current state of technology.”

Next, figure out where you’re headed and why. Present a vision of what you would like to see in five years, then define the tactics, resources and time it will take to get there.

“If your association can see itself as a digital organization and understand the concept of delivering your products, services and value proposition through technology, then your organization’s leadership will see the need to support your IT strategic plan,” said Coral.

It’s all about alignment

Ultimately, your IT strategic plan should aim to close the gaps between your current and desired state while outlining tactical information.

“Remember that your strategic plan is not an implementation, budget or technology development plan. It is a blueprint for alignment between mission, vision and business goals and how technology will support them,” Coriale said.

“Keep it as simple as possible and expand over time,” he added.


DelCor works closely with associations and nonprofits to provide outsourced IT support, CIO services, technology assessments, and digital workplace consulting. For more information about DecCor’s digital workplace consulting services and association technology solutions, visit delcor.com.

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