In every modern organization, there is strategic planning of information technology in order to facilitate the organizational process. The chief information officer is the person charged with that responsibility of planning and implementation of the plans. Due to the growing advantages of using IT in work places, many organizations have opted for the option since it simplifies the processes and saves on cost and time.
Strategic planning also ensures that the best and most efficient IT plan and project is used. The organization's CIO with the I.T. project team who works with the client to plan the process and gather requirements usually does this. This part involves talks in meetings, interviews, or open-ended questionnaires. (Stephanie Gurlen, 2003.)
However, the process is not easy going as it takes time and money. In the process of developing an IT project, the toughest challenge that the IT team faces is managing and meeting the expectations of their senior executives and the end users (customers), IT staff and employees across the organization. Failure to address and meet the constituents' expectations undermines the team's credibility. This is the test, which the UT team has to pass to prove they are successful. Sometimes, the project is unsuccessful if the customers are not satisfied with the service. (Goulston, M. (2008)
In the creation of an IT project for an organization, the plans should not be limited to the organization's goals and objectives. A project aimed at working only within the scope of the organization's strategic goals creates some problems. In most of the times, the customers deem the project unsatisfactory. This is because it fails to feature the needs of the customers. In most times, in the process of following to their superiors' terms and rules, the clients fail to specify what they want in the initial stages of the project and this leads to the disqualification of the project at the end.
The process of setting up an IT project becomes more difficult and complex when the requirements become more specific and towards a specific target. In cases where only a specific issue is addressed, the process becomes tight when it is tuned into solving other issues not related to the project. (Goulston, M. (2008)
As it is the case in all organizations, the process of making organizational decisions is very hard and time consuming. This is because it involves a large number of people whose tasks are different and need to be planned. The information technology planning process also falls into the same category in that it requires time and competence. The different and conflicting goals and targets, diverse interests, poor and under developed relations and communication among the parties and the undefined reasons make the process more difficult.
Even though there are cases where the process is successful, and delivers to the set expectations, regardless of the above problems, work has to continue and results have to seen, even if they are negative. This is because the CIO and his crew have to deliver to the expectations of the seniors. (Goulston, M. (2008)
In order to manage the expectations of the top executives, Doug Frese, 2005, argues that the CIO and his crew should develop ways of managing the expectations of the superiors, other staff, and the customers. This calls for preparedness of the IT team on a creative plan and strategy to explain to the entire organization. This process normally involves training the entire staff and other employees about the project and the goals and giving the customers choices and chances of expressing their views and wants. This should be done without compromising standards or the efficiencies, and in the process proving to the seniors that the project is within the set parameters. (Stephanie Gurlen, 2003)
According to Holmes A, there are four principles that a CIO and his team should do. To start with, he should define expectations of the organization internally. This involves selecting a group of seniors and middle managers who should share a common goal towards the targets of the project. The spirit of teamwork and good and strong communication skills to impart the necessary skills to the management team of the project should exist. (Holmes, A. 2008)
The other principle is the establishment of the rules of engagement. This involves the process of accepting the fact that an IT project cannot fulfill the expectations of all the people and so representatives of the customers and the other employees. The customers should be close planners of the project because this effectively helps in the management of the expectations of all other customers. This makes the customer representatives to become public supporters of the system they have helped in the making process.
To add onto these, the principle that should also be followed is dealing with doubters. In any project, there are those who will always go against it. This should not undermine the IT team but should instead face them and re-explain to them and also tackle their doubts. Brevity and facts should be the pillars in order to show pragmatism and goodwill to move forward. (Holmes, A. 2008)
Finally, the information technology planning process should be carried out bearing in mind that not everything is negotiable. This is because at the long end, the CIO has to deliver his project to the expectations of everyone concerned. This is to mean that he should meet the deadlines and the targets, and this is not negotiable. Goulston, M. (2008)
CIO's play a very crucial role in an organization since they are charged with the responsibility of reporting to the seniors, also to the respective customers and other employees He acts as the link between the two and more often, he connects the two through explaining and trying to balance the two through consultations about the issues that may arise. He attends to both of their issues and solves them.
In short, the IT department in any organization faces all the blames concerning IT related issues but they normally succeed and earn their credibility through managing the expectations and set targets effectively. Though the risk involved may seem huge, the competent and well-organized IT team will always deliver.
Stephanie G, 2003 summarizes on strategic IT planning by saying that it is only through a combination of the structural, professional and personal forces of relations that the IT strategy plan becomes practical and achievable.