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When it comes to technology, business leaders often overlook the importance of strategic IT planning

Rightly or wrongly, most company leaders and users just want their technology to work. They simply want a top of the line laptop, blazing fast Wi-Fi, crystal clear video conferencing, and security controls that stay out of their way. And the latest iPhone wouldn’t hurt as well.

In order to make office technology secure, seamless and a joy to work with, it requires countless hours of IT strategic planning, preparation and expertise by IT administrators or service providers working diligently in the background. 

Think about how professional athletes plan and prepare for every game or match. Take professional football, for example. A typical game only involves 60 minutes of actual play on Sunday. But your typical professional football player will watch more than ten hours of film in the week before the game. 

In a similar fashion, winning IT professionals spend countless hours planning and preparing for a technology deployment, while the actual work of deployment and configuration may only take just a few hours. With a well-crafted IT strategic plan, everything goes more smoothly.

At NENS, we take strategic IT planning approaches seriously. Great technology and support doesn’t just magically happen. To deliver world-class IT service and support, we take a strategic and disciplined approach to information technology with our clients.

IT Strategic Planning: 4 Major Misses

Strategic IT planning requires process, discipline, and mutual trust. Our goal is to enable our clients to adapt to ever changing business conditions and to leverage technology as a strategic differentiator in their business.

Here are a few IT strategic planning realities that are often misunderstood or overlooked.

1. Security Risk Assessments

At NENS, security is our top priority when it comes to achieving strategic IT planning goals. More than anything else we do, we are laser-focused on protecting and defending our clients from all manner of cyber threats. 

To properly defend our clients, we need to thoroughly understand any gaps or risks for each and every client and have a plan to mitigate and address those risks.

Therefore, with every new client relationship, our first order of business is to perform a cyber security risk assessment. A risk assessment identifies gaps, risks, and needed improvements. 

Not uncommonly in a new relationship, when creating an IT strategic plan, we may even discover glaring problems or holes in a company’s security. For instance, it is not uncommon to discover misconfigured backup services or holes in the network infrastructure. 

A security risk assessment will also reveal non-urgent items or prudent investments that can be made down the road. 

With a data-driven approach and expert guidance, a security risk assessment helps build a roadmap of needed improvements, both short and long term.

As part of our IT strategic planning framework, we conduct a security risk assessment with every client annually. We are often asked why this is necessary. The reality is, the cyber security and business landscape is constantly changing. Moreover, many organizations often experience periods of hyper growth. 

Therefore, whether a client is big or small, it is vital to revisit the security assessment process each year so that security improvements remain a top priority.

2. Standards are Critical

Another area of strategic IT planning is the ongoing process of driving technology standards. At NENS, our goal is to methodically evolve every client’s technology stack to our well defined standards. 

This is a win-win scenario, where by creating an IT strategic plan, we can connect clients with state-of-the-art technology that is properly deployed, managed, and secured. The payoff for clients is higher employee productivity, peace of mind from world-class cyber security, and infrastructure that operates at peak performance.

For the team at NENS, having clients on technology standards enables our clients to scale their operations and better manage their people and resources. We also are able to have more expertise with standardized solutions, which in turn raises the level of service and support we deliver to clients. 

With standards, our clients achieve better results and a higher return on investment from every technology dollar. For example, we standardize on Cisco Meraki for networking in all different kinds of office and teleworker environments. 

With a single standard, we are able to ensure proper deployment, configuration, and security and thereby deliver an excellent networking experience to users, along with the peace of mind from enterprise-class security.

From an IT strategic planning perspective, we document everything about every client. We have a list of over 300 standards that we measure, manage and monitor for each client. 

This discipline helps us prioritize and plan needed upgrades and to align with the budgetary realities of the client while adhering to best practices for effective IT alignment and strategic planning.

Since we have a methodical process to evolve the client’s infrastructure, standards alignment becomes a foundational element of our strategic IT planning framework.

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3. Partnerships Require Mutual Investment

Creating an IT strategic plan is a team sport. At NENS, we cherish our trusted working relationships with our clients. When done right, the planning process requires mutual investment from both sides. 

Technology Business Reviews (TBRs) happen on a regularly scheduled cadence, so projects, timelines, and budgets can be regularly reviewed and adjusted. 

We are pretty passionate about keeping these TBRs on the calendar, since a strong discipline ensures that problems are resolved, strategic IT planning goals are met and progress is made on all fronts. 

Every client has a six-quarter IT strategic plan, which needs to be periodically revisited and adjusted as new budgetary and operational requirements change. Of course, TBRs, annual security assessments, and strategic planning meetings all require client time and investment. 

But by trusting the process, creating an IT strategic plan example and mutually investing in the relationship, we are able to help our clients make technology investment a strategic part of their business.

4. Change is Constant

The last reality of strategic IT planning approaches is that change is constant. 2020 was undoubtedly a year of surprises for everyone. For nearly everyone, 2020 was a year of crises, setbacks, adaptation, and evolution. 

However, thanks to our IT strategic plan example, NENS’ clients were properly prepared with world-class technology and infrastructure that allowed them to quickly adapt to work from home, flexible office and laboratory operations, and new business realities. 

Years of planning and investment into developing best practices for effective IT alignment and strategic planning found us and our clients well prepared to leverage technology through the COVID-19 crisis.

Get On the Fast Track to Improved Strategic IT Planning

The reality is, no one knows for sure what the new year will bring. But we do know a lot about the mega-trends that are transforming technology and business. 

For example, cyber security risks show no signs of abating. The pandemic and work-from-home mega-trend have completely transformed the future of work and remote collaboration is now central to every company’s success.

The NENS strategic IT planning process is here to help companies capitalize on these changing circumstances and to leverage technology as a critical foundation of their success. 

If you are interested in learning more about how an IT strategic plan can help your organization, reach out to the team at NENS for a consultation today.