The Death of the 4 Year IT Strategy

May 24th, 2021
The Death of the 4 Year IT Strategy

4 Year IT Strategy

For decades now businesses have commonly run to a 4 year IT strategy. Financial controllers and owners alike have been keen to know their running costs for the next several years in regards to technology. These 4 year plans also made sense as they commonly aligned to the lifecycle of most server infrastructure.

In the modern world of technology however, does a 4 year plan make any sense?

More often than not businesses are now adopting cloud infrastructure that is no longer tied to 4 year lifespans. Moreover the evolution of the adoption of technology within businesses is moving at a rapid pace. Most businesses are changing elements of the software and/or technology they use on an annual or increasingly almost quarterly basis.

Required Agility of Modern Businesses

Technology is changing fast. Furthermore the events of 2020 have further fuelled the rapid adoption of new technologies in the workplace. This adoption however is not simply tied to the pandemic. Rather, the needs of businesses are changing at a rate far greater than they have in previous decades. Agility and ability to adapt is becoming a required competency of any successful business in the modern age.

This requirement has essentially made the 4 year IT strategy redundant outside of simple budgetary considerations. As businesses look to adopt new technologies to assist them in adapting to modern practices a new approach is needed. IT strategies need to be as agile and adaptable as the business plans that underpin them.

Adaptable IT Strategies

Rather than creating long term strategies that are locked in for years at a time, progressive businesses are moving towards rolling strategies that are reviewed and adapted quarterly. This alternative approach creates shorter horizons and allows for direction changes in the event that underlying business priorities change or new technology with new benefits become available.

This later point is crucial in a world where advancements are being made at an incredible pace. Businesses need to be able to constantly asses their plans for new alternatives and crucially, be willing to change priorities if new technology has the potential to produce far greater returns than previously estimated.

Success or failure with adaptive strategies lies with commitment and resourcing to ensure that someone is accountable for regularly reviewing the plans and challenging previous assumptions. This function can be done in house or outsourced. Crucially however it needs to be disciplined as best efforts will not yield meaningful results.

Thinking Outside the Box

Traditionally SMB's have been limited in their thinking in regards to IT. Many IT strategies in this space are generally limited to fleet management; the planned replacement of old or slow devices. Success with technology now demands more thought around the flow of information, how it is secured, accessed and shared.

The options available to businesses these days are incredibly diverse and adaptable to a number of applications and methodologies. It's important to put aside preconceived ideas and traditional practices and approach new solutions with fresh eyes. Having the right direction and advice in these matters is crucial. Someone that not only knows what options are available, but someone that can accurately understand your needs and respectfully challenge 'in the box' thinking.

The Last Migration You'll Ever Do

Breaking away from the 4 year IT strategy requires a departure from traditional infrastructure and the associated capex costs. Most businesses are leveraging Microsoft 365 for their core services with additional SaaS products such as xero performing other functions.

By moving to subscription based services businesses are able to be more agile with potential future changes and upgrades as they are not tied into long term technology investments. Furthermore, the nature of modern workplace technologies is that for most businesses, this could be the last migration they ever do as they will no longer require new servers, operating system upgrades, etc.

Because these core services are unlikely to be altered in their entirety in the future, it's important that any Microsoft 365 migration done now is done properly. A simple 'lift and shift' migration can cause long lasting speed and configuration issues.

Summary

The game is changing and it's time for businesses to mature the levels of engagement with their IT partners. A modern workplace needs deeper and more regular involvement. As such, the involvement of an IT partner needs to be focussed more on strategy and less on day to day reactive issues.

Want to talk with us about an alternate approach to IT strategy? Please get in touch and we'd be happy to share our insights!