As businesses continue to evolve in the Information Age, the demands and needs of information technology (IT) teams expand. Unfortunately, budgets and capital are not growing correspondingly, so management and executives must be highly selective in their pursuit of programs that require IT support. Setting objectives for the IT department becomes challenging as companies attempt to balance ongoing operations, strategic initiatives, warranty work and maintenance. Develop goals that enable the team to sustain existing operations while positioning for further expansion.

Step 1.

Establish objectives for sustaining existing operations. Conduct an annual health assessment of your IT department. Before the team can entertain the needs and desires of others, it needs to understand its own strengths and weaknesses to ensure adequate funding and preparation are in place for existing commitments. For example, review your performance statistics related to system uptime (availability) or data accuracy (reliability); if these areas are unsatisfactory, establish goals to upgrade or supplement your systems to improve these areas.

Step 2.

Create objectives for strategic vision. Participate in the Balance Scorecard, a set of activities that help executives and organizational leaders understand and relate the mission and vision of the company to its strategic objectives. This is achieved through a nine-step process that examines the organization’s mission, vision, challenges, enablers, and values with the perspective of the customer, business process owners and supporting infrastructure teams, as noted by the Balanced Scorecard Institute. First-hand knowledge of the strategic plans of the organization and the visions of the executive team will help IT leaders appropriately plan for upcoming change and expansion. If the company plans to expand globally, a review of potential infrastructure expansion and offshore vendor alliances may need to be included in future planning.

Step 3.

Develop objectives to integrate the critical revenue-generating channels. Supply chain management, customer relationship management, business intelligence and integrated collaboration environments are the core competencies that all companies need to promote efficiency, maintain competitiveness, manage workflow, retain and use knowledge effectively, and exploit social network systems. If these areas reside on disparate systems, establish goals to integrate them to improve data accessibility and greater business intelligence (knowledge about your business, customers, and suppliers).

Step 4.

Define objectives that balance the resources. Although outsourcing to third parties can be cost-effective for certain service types of resources, consider other options. Self-sourcing (educating end users to perform more development) and insourcing (using IT specialists) can protect sensitive data and technology, enhance employee morale, and promote and sustain organizational continuity and culture.

Step 5.

Design objectives that maintain focus on continuity and contingency. It is easy to become consumed with expansion and integration, but remember that system availability is just as important as capability. Millions of dollars can be lost if connectivity is severed for extended periods of time.