IT Strategic Planning a Best Practice in Good Times and Bad

October, 2015

More than three-quarters of IT organizations today conduct long-term strategic planning, making this one of most mature and widely embraced management best practices of any that we track.

As shown in the profile in Figure 1 from our study, IT Strategic Planning Adoption and Best Practices, this practice has a high adoption level in comparison with the 32 other practices in our annual study on IT management best practices.
The practice level also is high. IT organizations that adopt multiyear strategic plans update them on a regular basis and use them to guide investment and budgetary decisions.

Strategic BestPracFig 1 - IT Strategic Planning a Best Practice in Good Times and Bad

The high adoption rate and high practice level translate into a high maturity rating for this practice. Strategic planning is widely adopted and actively practiced. This finding suggests that any IT executive whose organization lacks a strategic IT plan should take the initiative to develop one, in collaboration with the rest of the executive team, and to maintain it on a regular basis in light of changing business conditions and objectives.

Strategic planning is an IT management best practice in good times and bad. During a recession, a strategic plan helps prioritize which projects can be slowed or cut. In times of growth, it provides a road map for investing in projects that span multiple years to meet long-term objectives. IT organizations that lack a strategic plan risk becoming stuck in a reactive mode, unable to help their organizations cope with immediate challenges or seize emerging opportunities.

In the current environment, where neither condition seems to prevail, IT strategic planning is more essential than ever. The strategic plan can help IT organizations look beyond the prevailing uncertainty and stay focused on long-term goals, and it can be especially important for guiding IT organizations through the accelerating shift to the cloud and the digital enterprise, a transformation that will provide the flexibility to successfully navigate the ongoing volatility in global markets.

In the full study, we describe the fundamental components of an IT strategic plan, assess current adoption trends by organization size and sector, and outline the initial steps organizations need to take to start the process.

This Research Byte is based on our report on this subject, IT Strategic Planning Adoption and Best Practices. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).