Reasons Why Using Information Technology Consulting Is a Smart Move for Your Business

Whether your business is a start up that is just getting off the ground, or a larger business that is still growing, considering the use of information technology consulting is a positive step for your business. Realistically, an in house information technology expert is an expense many businesses cannot truly afford. By going through a reputable IT consulting business, you will be guaranteed that the IT consultants working for your business are highly trained and up to date in their field – something you may not be able to ensure when hiring a permanent staff member.

Below we will explore some of the many reasons why information technology consulting can save your business money and time.

Save Money

There is no doubt about it – hiring an IT consultant or team of consultants will save any business money. Having an expert available to fix problems, maintain and upgrade operating systems, and advise on solutions is an ideal, cost effective way to run a business. In contrast, most business managers will admit that having an in-house IT expert is a costly move, as is relying on a regular staff member with a knack for technology to look after maintenance.

A Fresh Perspective

Bringing in IT consultants to address on-going issues, or simply assess your business’s current procedures, is an excellent way to gain a fresh perspective on how to conduct everyday matters with higher efficiency and accuracy.

IT consulting can also help you to avoid any future pitfalls, as highly knowledgeable consultants will be able to easily identify procedures that may need to be altered.

Outsource time-consuming repetitive tasks

A small company may be wasting the energy of their department on important yet mundane tasks such as upgrades, maintenance’s, and the dreaded repairs.

By outsourcing information technology experts through a reputable consulting business, you can relax in the knowledge that highly trained personnel will conduct such tasks with efficiency, leaving your staff to focus on the most important aspects of your business.

Lowering risk of error

In a small business, it can sometimes be easy for IT systems to be compromised, meaning loss of data and valuable work time. To prevent this, hiring an IT consultant to set up a secure system and look after its maintenance will pay for itself.

Helps you to stay competitive in your industry

Outsourcing your business’s information technology can allow you to stay competitive in your industry by gaining regular, up to date knowledge from the expert consultants you hire. It is their job to stay on top of what goes on in the information technology sector, allowing your business to focus on growth and success, all the while knowing that your technology is up to date, too.

So, do not wait until the next time you have an urgent problem with your operating system – consider taking advantage of information technology consulting today and give your business the best chance of getting ahead.

 

Essence Of Information Technology Landscape In Business Organizations

Any manufacturing organization would ideally have its Vision and Mission to guide them through its future course.

But does the organization have an Information Technology vision in place. Some organization may question this need, they may feel that the organizational focus should be on its core competency and Information Technology just plays a role of an enabler. But on the contrary such organizations are in greater need of an Information Technology vision. The role of Information Technology is that of a business driver in today’s competitive environment and not just an enabler.

Now lets analyse the need and essence of Information Technology Landscape for a business organization.

Consider an XYZ organization, which after half a decade of existence had entered a phase of business growth. Till date the role of Information Technology would have been that of a support system. My experience says that most of the organizations in such a scenario tend to focus on their core competency and grabbing more business opportunities, and almost no attention is given to the key role Information Technology can play.

Keeping in mind the type of competition and constraints the business organization faces, like for example high demand and need for rapid increase in manufacturing capabilities, need of sizeable investments to enter new markets or more focus for business tie ups, its apparently difficult to focus and believe that Information Technology can be a business driver. But the fact of the matter is, it really is. So the question is how can it be done?

The organization requirements can be divided majorly into functional requirements (very specific to the industry domain), routine transactional requirements, content management requirements, workflow requirements and Infrastructural requirements.

Now the organization has to have an Information Technology Landscape plan, based on its current and future business landscape.

There can be phase wise implementation of the Information Technology landscape plan. Start with covering the domain functionalities (R&D, F&D etc), the benefits would be evident in this case. Followed by transactional systems (like ERP) and then content management systems. The benefits of such systems will be realized over a period of time, ideally after the stabilization period.

For workflow systems, they have to be built at an enterprise level. These workflow systems are of critical importance to an organization. The effectiveness of above systems can be greatly hampered by an inefficient workflow system in place.

Information Technology infrastructure is an on going process in an Information Technology landscape implementation. Any effective technology solution would have to be right collaboration of business software applications and hardware infrastructure.

The most critical of all is to always have an Integration Route, which the Information Technology landscape implementation strategy would follow. This well planned Integration Route is required for a holistic Information Technology perspective.

Gradually as the Information Technology landscape builds up in the organization, there will corresponding benefits in terms of business process automation, business process management, and finally leading to effective knowledge management with in the organization. In such a scenario, the Information Technology acts as a business driver; there onwards Information Technology perspective will be part of any future organizational strategy in scaling business growth.

 

The Details About Information Technology Strategy

Businesses today really need to know how to implement information technology into their business to keep up with the competition. There are many aspects to information technology, and unless a business does work specifically in this area, they may need to hire an IT manager who knows about the field. They can implement an information technology strategy that specifically suits the goals of a company.

The target of the strategy can be either the forms of technology being used or the people who are using it. There is a principle from a business expert that an IT strategy has to focus on the strategy by creating and measuring the value of the business from the perspective of the investment put into the emBusinesses today really need to know how to implement information technology into their business to keep up with the competition. There are many aspects to information technology, and unless a business does work specifically in this area, they may need to hire an IT manager who knows about the field. They can implement an information technology strategy that specifically suits the goals of a company.

The target of the strategy can be either the forms of technology being used or the people who are using it. There is a principle from a business expert that an IT strategy has to focus on the strategy by creating and measuring the value of the business from the perspective of the investment put into the employment of IT.

There have been other methods of implementing a strategy. The following are a few examples. Some strategies have focused on the ability of a company to spend on IT. Another focus has been how employees of a company can use the technology to create value for the organization.

The best way to come up with at strategy is to have both groups in managerial positions from the business and IT departments come together to design a plan. This helps to see the goals of the business along with how the IT department can accomplish this.

There is a structure to the IT strategy which will be explained. There is an executive summary which includes the project objective and scope. There is an approach with methodology of engagement. This IT strategy is then related to how it will work within the business strategy. There is then a resource summary relating to staffing and budget of this project.

Further, there are internal capabilities which affect how much can be accomplished. There are portfolios noting what projects are occurring at the moment. It should note how much resources it is taking to complete a project, and it can note any strengths or weaknesses.

There are other levels including external forces outside of the company which might be influencing the progress of the project. Perhaps there are more advanced technologies coming out which can possibly be implemented. It is good to noted if there are any threats which can hinder the progress, and it is wise to note any milestones such as accomplishments or the meeting of set goals. These all fit into the steps of designing a strategy and seeing one in progress.

Strategy in information technology is very important because it is the organization of a plan to make the system work. It includes the work of both the business team and the IT team to work together to make the goal of the company succeed. There are steps within the plan which need to be monitored which is done mostly by the IT team. There are different ways to do it, and new strategy methods are continually coming out. It depends on the expertise of both teams to decide what strategy plan will be taken and implemented.ployment of IT.

There have been other methods of implementing a strategy. The following are a few examples. Some strategies have focused on the ability of a company to spend on IT. Another focus has been how employees of a company can use the technology to create value for the organization.

The best way to come up with at strategy is to have both groups in managerial positions from the business and IT departments come together to design a plan. This helps to see the goals of the business along with how the IT department can accomplish this.

There is a structure to the IT strategy which will be explained. There is an executive summary which includes the project objective and scope. There is an approach with methodology of engagement. This IT strategy is then related to how it will work within the business strategy. There is then a resource summary relating to staffing and budget of this project.

Further, there are internal capabilities which affect how much can be accomplished. There are portfolios noting what projects are occurring at the moment. It should note now much resources it is taking to complete a project, and it can note any strengths or weaknesses.

There are other levels including external forces outside of the company which might be influencing the progress of the project. Perhaps there are more advanced technologies coming out which can possibly be implemented. It is good to noted if there are any threats which can hinder the progress, and it is wise to note any milestones such as accomplishments or the meeting of set goals. These all fit into the steps of designing a strategy and seeing one in progress.

Strategy in information technology is very important because it is the organization of a plan to make the system work. It includes the work of both the business team and the IT team to work together to make the goal of the company succeed. There are steps within the plan which need to be monitored which is done mostly by the IT team. There are different ways to do it, and new strategy methods are continually coming out. It depends on the expertise of both teams to decide what strategy plan will be taken and implemented.

 

What Information Technology Management is About

The world is very much dependent on information technology because this is where businesses can get all of their information to customers or other consumers. Information technology is the study, development, and implementation with support of information systems. Information technology management is another step forward which takes the technology as a corporate resource where a company can organize it into an important tool to get their information to all targets. It can be used to help with business to gain new customers or to keep people abreast of all new things happening in the company.

Businesses who employ it must be in close relations with IT management in order for their businesses can use it to its optimum effectiveness. Topics that need to be understood to make information technology work is strategic planning, financial management, and risk analysis.

With this area of expertise becoming so much more important in this world, people can study this area at length. There are bachelor, masters, and doctorate degrees. There are many colleges who offer these courses. There are even courses online that allow some people with current jobs to take an online course at home. It helps people to accomplish a goal without adjusting their lifestyle too much.

To more closely look at the role of an IT manager, they must know how to plan, design, select, and use the new technologies that are coming out to integrate into the business that is employing them. Therefore, it is the ability of a person to effectively use the systems available to make it work for a business.

There are many resources online to find out more about this topic. There are schools who can help people decide if this is the career path that they would like to take. Businesses can get information on IT consultants who can help improve their businesses with setting up their system, and implementing the most economical system with up-to-date software.

There are journals available on all of the latest topics. They have some of the best people in the field keep other managers informed of new technologies being tested.

There can be specialists in different businesses who need information technology. Technology is advancing in every field, and it may take more expertise to implement information technology in certain fields because each field has its own specified systems.

Information technology management is a necessary field as our society continues to grow. Information technology are a set of technological systems which groups or businesses employ in order to spread the information which they produce or in turn, collect. Businesses may not be information technology businesses and need the assistance of those who are experts in the field to implement it into their business. IT managers are these people, and they can help to study a business and build the network of a business with the most economical and up-to-date systems. To become an IT manager, one can go to college advisors to find out if this is the field for them. There are many programs across the country.

 

What Is the Role of Information Technology?

Strictly speaking, Information Technology (IT) has been influencing society for thousands of years. Smoke signals, the abacus, writing, paper, pens and the printing press were all once considered the forefront of IT because those technologies were the latest and greatest in communication.

But today it is widely accepted that the forefront of IT lies in digital communications. As with all historical Information Technology developments, digital communication technology is revolutionary in terms of society, business, defence and culture.

But what is it about digital communications that sets it apart from all other previous technological advances? What is the role that this technology can play in modern society?

Firstly, IT acts as a facilitator. It is a medium that permits large volumes of information to be stored, processed or transferred at lightning speed. This means that there is more information at hand to make decisions, maintain relationships, monitor markets or follow movements.

The power of this notion should not be underestimated, it allows people to make decisions based on masses of up to date information. The military, educational institutions and large business have long understood the power of this notion but it has only been in the last ten years that mainstream society has also embraced the power of information for both social movements and small business.

Secondly, Information Technology is an enabler. Only a select minority of specialized companies in the world can claim that IT is their business. Most corporations and institutions use Information Technology to enable functions that drive their core business. This may include better communication between staff, suppliers or customers or it may include better asset management. Whatever the function, digital communication makes the storage, processing or transfer of information more efficient than ever before. But it is important to note that in essence it does not change core businesses, ideals, ethics or movements. It just enables them to function at a greater scale much more efficiently.

Lastly, Information Technology assumes the role of custodian. As data and information is amassed on just about any subject you care to imagine, massive stores of data are emerging ready to service any new requests. And therein lies the security paradox that modern Information Technology presents. One can argue that more available information makes our lives more efficient, safer and richer. Whilst the other argument is that the very same information that provides these benefits is also our achilles heal due to the security implications of unauthorized infiltration.

There is little doubt that the role of information technology is directed and constrained by the very technology that defines it. Today, that technology allows us to collect, manipulate and communicate masses of information. As a consequence, the role of IT revolves around improving the efficiency, capacity, speed or accuracy of any elements that can benefit from the functions that modern Information Technology systems provide.

The role of Information Technology in Business is often a misunderstood. Critical issues such as business continuity and disaster recovery should be reviewed by business regularly.

 

How Much Is “Information Technology Debt” Hurting Your Bottom-Line?

Information Technology (IT) debt is basically the cost of maintenance needed to bring all applications up to date.

Shockingly, global “Information Technology (IT) debt” will reach $500 billion this year and could rise to $1 trillion by 2015!

But why should you take IT debt seriously and begin to take steps to eliminate this issue from your business?

According to Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company…

It will cost businesses world-wide 500 billion dollars to “clear the backlog of maintenance” and reach a fully supported current technology environment.

Gartner summarizes the problem best:

“The IT management team is simply never aware of the time scale of the problem.This problem, hidden from sight, is getting bigger every year and more difficult to deal with every year.”

The true danger is that systems get out of date which leads to all kinds of costly software and hardware inefficiencies.

Your tech support provider can most likely do a better job at staying current with your computer and network environment.

Have them start today by documenting the following:

  • The number of applications in use
  • The number purchased
  • The number failed
  • The current and projected costs of both operating and improving their reliability

Are you using this powerful formula to control your technology?

There’s a powerful formula I’ll share with you in a moment that will help you adopt new technology faster in your business.

In business, technology encompasses Information Technology (IT), Phone Systems and Web Development.

These three layers of technology form the backbone of your business’s technology environment. Why is technology adoption so important?

Without new technology adoption it’s impossible for businesses to be competitive in this economy. A major role of technology is to help businesses scale, design systems, and automate processes.

Studies recently have shown that adopting technology keeps businesses leaner because entrepreneurs can do more with less.

There’s evidence that new business start-ups are doing so with nearly half as many workers as they did a decade ago.

For example, Wall Street Journal’s Angus Loten reported that today’s start-ups are now being launched with an average of 4.9 employees.

Down from 7.5 in the 1990s, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City Research group.

In other words, technology allows businesses to expand quickly with less.

Researchers at Brandeirs University found that technology driven service businesses added jobs at a rate of 5.1% from 2001 to 2009; while employment overall dwindled by.5%.

These businesses save money, expand, and create jobs by adopting new technologies.

Are you adopting new technologies fast in your business?

Speed of technology adoption is critical to your business success.

Technology is changing the speed of business; now a whole industry might expand, mature, and die in months… not years.

There’s one formula that illustrates this marriage between adopting technology and business success the best… and that’s the “Optimal Technology Equation.”

I recommend you adopt this powerful “Optimal Technology Equation” in your business:

• Maintenance + Planning + Innovation (Adoption)=
• Enhanced Technology Capabilities=
• Reduced Costs + Increased Production=
• Increased Profitability.

Of course, this is only a brief explanation of this invaluable formula. Be one step ahead of the competition.

 

Business & Technology Crack – Does Business Drives Technology or Technology Drives Business?

Information Technology and the move to a computerized infrastructure model are bringing great changes to many industries. Often it is the CIO of the company who escort this fundamental shift in the business revenue stream. Leading others through modernization, revolutionize and transformation means you must be able to make changes yourself.

Forget about asking whether technology drives business or business drives technology. Stop perturbing about whether or not technology is strategic. Silence all the confusions about how advance this technology is to that technology. In technology, there are numerous questions that if you have to ask, you probably already know and don’t like the answer. A more satisfying line of inquiry is how much of your technological horsepower is actually being used to turn the wheels of innovation.

Some people says that Technology drives business modernization, novelty, success & Innovations that opens up new doors of opportunities, improves the company’s performance on the whole, sharpens the company’s market intelligence, and makes new things possible for the clients. Another school of thought is that the Business Drives Technology, as such integration is about assisting business to facilitate their profitability by utilizing technology and other resources available to the enterprise. But realistically speaking, the driving force comes from the CEO and CIO of the company, who both endeavor to leverage technology to its fullest potential.

In a society that has become entirely dependent on computers and immediate communications, technology is becoming the heartbeat in the process of office design as decisions on layout and services. Some aspects of technology, like the computer animation & communication, are highly visible demonstration devices. But more of it is in the largely unseen infrastructure, with the emphasis on sophisticated wiring and smart communication devices to provide for an ever greater flow, and on communications and power facilities to keep operations running through almost any anticipated calamity.

In the modernization of the today’s businesses, Common business drivers include; Mergers and Acquisitions, Internal Reorganizations, Application and System Consolidation, Inconsistent/Duplicated/Fragmented Data, New Business Strategies, Compliance with Government Regulations, Streamlining Business Processes. To achieve the success in the accommodation of these business drivers, the sturdy and smart input would be required from both the parties i.e. the business as well as the technology.

In a company, you could cover every surface in your office with how to manage change. But one aspect of change management that often dodges IT Managers is how to better influence corporate colleagues. If information technology drives business decisions, the IT executives must communicate and be persuasive with other department heads on key project management issues.

Strategic planning for Information Technology is one component of an overall company vision for success. This psychoanalysis facilitates IT professionals to successfully define short and long-term goals and ascertain the resources necessary to apprehend such goals. To ensure success, the strategic plan should be developed in a thorough but rapid manner, consist of a brief, succinct compilation of analyzed data, and provide opportunities by which additional planning and analysis can occur.

Several important benefits occur as the result of a successful strategic IT plan. First, employees are provided with an understanding of how their role fits in with the overall company structure. Also, this planning allows managers to realize additional opportunities for growth and success. Finally, important relationships between technology investment and positive outcomes, such as increased market share, are revealed.

It’s now become the industry dilemma that IT people need to know more about business. They need to understand the disciplines and the lingo of business process management, business performance management, customer relationship management, supply chain management, financial management, human resources management, operations management, etc. Lacking that knowledge, communication with business people and understanding of business requirements will forever be troubled.

On the other hand the Business people should also drive their efforts to know more about information technology. As with all communication and relationship issues, this is not a prejudiced problem. Just as IT people need to become more business-oriented, business people need to be more IT-oriented. They need to understand the roles and relationships among the many different kinds of technology upon which their information systems depend, and they need to understand the dependencies among those technologies. Business people need to have a working knowledge of the technology stack as it affects their capability to get information, perform business analysis, and make informed business decisions.

Beyond the relatively straight-forward needs of business becoming IT-oriented and technologists becoming business-oriented, there lies a new challenge. We must develop common understanding and shared perspective of value, an issue that is both a business concern and a technology consideration. When business and IT have different meaning and outlook for value, conflicts are certain to arise.

Business and IT organizations often have two evidently different perspectives of value. IT expert generally take a data-to-value approach. Where Data produces information, information enhances knowledge, knowledge drives action, action produces outcomes, and favorable outcomes deliver value. Business management typically uses a goals-to-value system. Business drivers and goals determine strategies, strategies drive tactics, which in turn produce results, and positive results produce value.

 

How Does Data Archiving From HANA Improve Business Information

SAP Hana is a relational database management system that stores data in memory rather than on traditional hard disks. It is used in conjunction with “big data” for accelerating business processes, data processing, and analytics.

We’re not talking about a few gigabytes of data, we’re talking about terabytes and petabytes in some cases. When stored traditionally, gleaning insights from the massive amounts of data stored on hard disks takes time – and it can lead to bandwidth issues. With SAP Hana, a business’s dat – even multiple terabytes of it – is stored on in a memory where it can be accessed instantly. The ability to gather information in real time is one of SAP Hana’s biggest selling points.

However, storing big data on memory rather than on low-cost, high capacity hard disks is costly. Data archiving from Hana is a technique used to lower the overall cost of SAP Hana. After all, if you no longer need data, why pay to store it on one of the most expensive forms of storage.

While controlling costs is certainly an important factor when considering data archiving from Hana, it’s not the only one. Data archiving can improve business information and help ensure that your most critical information is readily available.

For example, data archiving is a process that not only moves data off of expensive primary storage tiers, it also classifies and indexes it. Once fully classified and indexed, your archived data becomes searchable. In other words, you can easily find data and files in your archive. Prior to archiving, you may not have known that data even existed!

Though this may not apply to Hana per se, data archiving also moves data off of end-users’ machines and into the centralized archive. No matter how many memos IT has sent out instructing users to save files to a central storage device, it’s likely that individual desktops and laptops have more than their fair share of files sitting on their C:\ drives. Again, some of these files may exist without your knowledge. By archiving the entire enterprise, they will become searchable and IT will regain control over files that never made it to the preferred destination. This ensures that these files can be discovered when needed, and it ensures that they are properly backed up for business continuity planning.

Archiving from Hana improves business information by categorizing and indexing it. Whether you need to look up a sales order from ten years ago or want to view the latest real time sales information, integrating a data archive with SAP Hana is a winning combination. You’ll be able to quickly find old data (without having to pay a premium to store it in memory) and you’ll have more in-memory space available for current information. In addition, moving non-essential data from Hana can improve the performance of other applications that may not be as capable as Hana is at sorting through terabytes of data.

 

The Keys To Starting An Information Technology Business

An information technology business can be a gold mine in the right hands, but IT is an extremely crowded field so you need to make sure that you take the right steps in order to make your business a success. That process begins with understanding the importance of IT and knowing how to properly position yourself within the market to make the best of your particular assets. If you can manage that, then the opportunities for success are almost limitless.

There are several key elements to starting an IT business and the first is recognizing the various aspects of IT and what they can bring to clients. Information is an extremely valuable commodity these days, so much so that entire social media networks are built almost every day with the primary goal of spreading information. The Internet itself is the penultimate resource for instant delivery of information and for not just local but global communication.

The IT expert is ideally positioned to make the most of these resources in order to help businesses become more productive and more profitable. Through your own information technology business you can provide the expertise necessary to manipulate social media, produce blogs, design websites and otherwise enable clients to market themselves to their best advantage and reach the widest possible group of potential customers, thus maximizing their profits.

As important as having a strong online presence is to a company, so too is having their own computer system running smoothly and efficiently. This is yet another area where an IT consultant can make a big difference. You can help your clients to put their own systems to better use and to keep existing systems functioning properly so that their business continues to run smoothly and everyone benefits in the end.

Once you understand your own importance in this cycle, you can then take the necessary steps to properly market your information technology business. As with your clients’ businesses, marketing is equally essential to yours and you need to not only identify potential opportunities but also position yourself to take the best advantage of them. Make yourself stand out by highlighting what makes you so much better than the competition and you’ll have clients seeking you out in no time.

Obviously staying on top of trends in technology is vital to being an effective IT consultant and that is another key to starting and maintaining a successful business. The more current your knowledge is, the more effective you’ll be at helping your clients to stay on top of those same trends. You’ll be giving them the competitive edge through your own expertise and that will make you someone that businesses know they can rely on for their IT needs.

Just because the field is a large one doesn’t mean you have to get lost in the crowd. With the right approach you can keep yourself head and shoulders above the rest and put your information technology business in the forefront. Then you’ll be able to sit back and watch the business opportunities multiply and the profits increase with them. It’s a win-win situation for everyone and it could very well be the start of an extremely successful career.

 

Data Arteries – Enabling Business Strategy Through Information Technology

Regardless of size and industry, every enterprise is dependent upon information technology, and must have a strategy for how to employ it, especially as the internet becomes more pervasive. Information technology strategy is an enabler of business strategy. Not only must an enterprise manage relationships with its constituencies, but it must be able to connect with them electronically through data arteries – information supply, value, and demand chains. The information supply and demand chains are external; the information value chains are internal.

An information technology strategy is a special case functional strategy because every function in the enterprise requires electronic information delivery capabilities, and many require electronic process control also. In very large enterprises, strategy may be formulated at both the enterprise and organizational unit levels.

As websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, and Twitter become more pervasive in business, linkages between application systems and databases and social networking websites will be more important to enable constituencies to communicate both collaboratively and cooperatively. Just as email has become a primary method of communication between enterprises and their constituencies, so will social networking sites especially for advertising and ecommerce.

Business intelligence information can be used to identify opportunities for competitive advantage. However, information technology itself can be an enabler of competitive advantage, especially when there are opportunities to digitize products or deliver information products electronically. In such cases, business strategy is inseparable from information technology strategy.

Information technology comprises the analytical and operational application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure (hardware and networks) of an enterprise. Not all computer technologies are information based. Computer technology is used for process control applications in special purpose equipment. However, connectivity is essential as applications become more integrated. As digital construction and manufacturing practices develop through such technologies as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), the processes, the control of processes, and the products and/or services delivered by processes all rely upon information technology for connectivity.

For example, in the manufacturing industry, not only can design and manufacturing work be conducted through integrated CAD/CAM processes with electronic linkages to carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, but the entire project and process management activities can be monitored electronically from ideation to product delivery.

Through technologies such as electronic data interchange and electronic funds transfer, data and both digital and information products flow through information supply and demand chains in parallel to material supply and product and/or service demand chains. Within the enterprise, data flows through information value chains from supply chains and to demand chains.

Developing an information technology strategy document is essential for describing the requirements and for educating users because:

  • The impact is enterprise or organizational unit wide and other elements of strategy cannot be implemented without it
  • Administrative activities, such as legal, finance, and human resources, and operational activities, such as research and development, procurement, manufacturing or equivalent, distribution, marketing, sales, and service depend on information technology – analytical and operational systems support both administrative and operational functions
  • The time frames, expenditures, risks, and magnitude of efforts are usually larger and more complicated than other initiatives and must be clearly understood; information technology projects have a tendency to go out of control and under deliver – therefore, contingency plans are always necessary
  • The subject matter can be complicated if not well explained

Information technology strategy is usually packaged as a separate but related document to the strategic plan. It is deployed and executed through specific programs and projects that develop new or enhance or maintain existing application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure.

Large information technology development projects are usually cross-functional, and may be part of a broader initiative sponsored by multiple functions collectively. Broader initiatives that have information technology components include:

  • Market research and development
  • Product research and development
  • Infrastructure research and development for processes and information delivery

For example – for the development of a:

  • Digital manufacturing system integrating both research and development and sales and production activities (sponsors: Manufacturing and Sales functions – impact is on Research and Development, Procurement, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sales, and Service functions)
  • Financial, managerial, and regulatory accounting and reporting system (sponsor: Finance function – impact is enterprise wide)
  • Human resource management system (sponsor: Human Resources function – impact is enterprise wide)
  • Sales tracking system (sponsor: Sales function – impact is on all salespeople enterprise wide)

Some projects can be solely for the Information Technology function, in which case it is a customer of itself.

Steering committees should be established for major programs and projects representing the various impacted functions in order to resolve cross-functional barriers. Major programs should come under the review of a planning and policy committee at the enterprise level.

Information technology strategy formulation is a project in its own right at the enterprise or organizational unit level. Very large projects are grouped as a program of inter-related components under a program manager. Projects can be stand alone also. A single project can deliver one or more application systems and related databases and technical infrastructure, or multiple projects may be required depending upon complexity.

For example, when launching a new product, it may be necessary to conduct marketing, product, and infrastructure development projects that include the delivery of new systems, and upgrades to existing systems. However, if an addition to the product line is launched at a later time, a new project or set of projects may be required to enhance or maintain the current systems, or even develop new ones.

The work breakdown structure for downstream development, enhancement, and maintenance projects decomposes into planning, analysis, design, construction, implementation, and performance measurement phases. The performance measurement phase can be conducted in parallel with the other phases, and each must end with a performance review. A feedback loop to future planning activities must be established so that lessons learned from the past can be reflected in future initiatives.

Meeting the cost and schedule requirements is always a major consideration. Hence, “meeting the date” is a frequent requirement for project success. However, after implementation, the scope of what was delivered and its quality is usually remembered more than when. In anticipation of the need to make changes after implementation, an adaption project may be necessary to tune, standardize, and integrate the deliverables.

The planning phase is conducted at the enterprise, organizational unit, or program levels for one or more projects depending upon size and complexity. However, each application system and related databases and technical infrastructure is delivered through a project with distinct analysis, design, construction, and implementation phases. Each phase always begins with a detailed planning activity to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately. The work breakdown structure does not preclude the use of iterative methodologies within each phase for rapid application development and prototyping. Development, enhancement, and maintenance of websites can be very rapid, and heavily interactive with user involvement, when the appropriate tools are used.