Tech strategies are not the easiest things to plan, and there will always be bumps in the road. Before you even begin to think about your tech strategy, you need to consider how it fits in with the wider business roadmap. Where is the company going? Which customers are you targeting and how will they interact with you?
It’s only by understanding the wider context of your business that you’ll be able to work out a suitable tech strategy. Tech is now so inextricably linked to a business that no IT plan can be developed in isolation. If you’re thinking about implementing a new tech strategy, here are just a few things you need to bear in mind.
Set milestones and have a roadmap
Once you have a clear picture of where the business is going and how your tech fits in with that vision, you need to set realistic milestones for your IT strategy. Having a series of mini goals you want to achieve and a time frame in which to achieve them helps keep you on track.
Setting overly ambitious milestones can backfire, because missing them can be demoralising. It’s far more incentivising to set a series of smaller milestones and tick them off one by one, rather than setting larger, more challenging goals.
Don’t be too optimistic with timelines
Things will always over-run. That isn’t pessimism, it’s the truth. No matter how well-organised your tech strategy is, it’s more or less guaranteed to take longer than you think. If you don’t hit those milestones on time, then a few days here and there can quickly mount up to weeks or even months of delay.
For that reason, plan to deliver some months before your set milestone and have a contingency plan in place so you won’t be skirting too close to final deadlines. For example, if there is a specific milestone date you need to go live by, you should aim to have everything completed at least 1 month before. You should be organising your development so that what you need to go live with is what is developed first so that even if you don’t hit the milestone with the full product, you will have enough to go live with and can release additional functionality as you enter the market
Delivering everything at once is simply too expensive and complex, with no guarantees of success. It’s easier to go back and retrospectively add to a product you’ve launched. Something you think is a ‘killer feature’ might turn out to be a flop, so act lean and only release the bare minimum.
Once you know there’s a market for your product, you can go back and enhance it. That way you avoid unnecessary time and expense on a project you have no guarantees will work out in the long-run.
ROI is king
Following on from the last point, keeping things lean also means seeing a better return on investment (ROI). If you focus less on developing tech and more on making an impact, you’ll naturally find the areas which will create the most value.
Bear in mind the 20/80 rule – which actions will require 20% effort to generate 80% impact? Keep it simple, be flexible and work your way upwards, rather than putting all your energy and investment into something which may not work.
Remember the customer
Too many businesses lose sight of their customers, but you have to remember that it’s them you’re building this for and if you don’t think about their needs, nobody is going to want to buy the end product. When you work out exactly what they want, you’ll gain a better insight into the areas of work you need to prioritise.
Put yourself in their shoes – where are the touchpoints with your product? What do they need at various stages on the customer journey? How can you simplify their lives? When you picture things from the customer’s perspective, you might change your mind about the direction you’re taking.
Don’t measure progress in lines of code
You can have the fastest, smartest coders on the planet, but if you’re measuring success by the scale of their output then something has gone seriously wrong. Success can’t be measured by the volume of code you produce.
Instead, rate your team’s achievements by the business’s overall success, how productivity has improved, the number of users, staff wellbeing and your ROI. However much code you churn out, it’s meaningless if any of these things suffer.
Think beyond the product
Your tech goes far beyond the finished app or product. You also need to think about how your teams are structured and how they work, how tasks are managed, how you communicate and how this product might feed into the next one.
Sometimes the internal tech and inner workings of the business are even more important than the external tech and the products you put out into the world.
Choose tech to scale
Remember, you don’t always have to have the latest tech, especially if it means spending beyond your means. In the early days, set a budget and stick to it, making do with the basics until your product is launched and starts generating income.
If you overspend on tech, it’s a gamble which is unlikely to pay off. Choose tech to scale and don’t break the bank before your project is off the ground.
Be prepared to change
Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so prepare to be flexible. External and internal forces can both change the course of your business, and you need to be ready to go with the flow and adapt along the way.
No tech strategy is set in stone, and the ability to change your mind or go back to the drawing board is a strength, not a weakness.