Strategic Technology Planning

CEOs and CIOs are discovering that, in a difficult economy, early adoption of emerging technologies can give their companies a competitive edge. Many are looking to set up a formal procedure that would smooth the way for the introduction and implementation of these technologies. Of course, technology eventually will find its way into the workplace, with or without planning — but companies that fall back on a reactive, “as needed” approach in their adoption of new technologies run the risk of making costly, personality-driven choices, rather than tactical decisions that align with their larger corporate strategy and goals. An IT strategy should cover all facets of technology management, including cost management, human capital management, hardware and software management, vendor management, risk management and all other considerations in the enterprise IT environment. Executing an IT strategy requires strong IT leadership; the chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO) need to work closely with business, budget and legal departments as well as with other user groups within the organization. The technology scorecard offers a more detailed approach to prioritization. The scorecard provides a format for assessing the relative value of the technology when weighed against the costs and risks. This technique is particularly suitable for prioritization of fully developed project candidates that have already undergone some level of evaluation to determine more detailed information regarding benefit, costs and risk. The Technology Plan provides strategic and tactical ideas based on a high-level framework. It does not address the resource needs; it is understood that new resources and the re-allocation of some existing resources will be required to execute strategies and accomplish projects identified in the Plan. The effectiveness of any strategic plan also requires careful and timely execution; an accompanying operational plan outlines how the Technology Plan goals and objectives will be accomplished. The operational plan, a granular level action plan, will create priorities for the projects, establish accountabilities, formulate success indicators, and identify resources needed to implement the projects. The project plan for a technology evaluation project should contain all the normal components of an IT project plan (such as detailed work breakdown, milestones, staffing, timeline, cost, deliverables). In addition, the plan should include the explicit goals for the evaluation, and the criteria by which success will be determined. It is also advisable to include an initial indication of longer-term plans, particularly staffing and funding, to ensure that a path to deployment exists if the initial investigations succeed. Creating Type A behavior in a Type C organization should be done with extreme political caution. The objective for leaders of the mission-critical activities is to fuel the advanced technology flame, not extinguish it. The key factor for their success is to firmly, but gently, convince the rest of the organization (management as well as operators) about the value of the technology.

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