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Driving business innovation is set to be an area of increased focus for CIOs, as 61% of CIOs in the UK describe it as a major priority for 2016 and 2017, according to CIO UK and IDG UK research of over 100 CIOs and business technology leaders in the UK.

So, aligning a business strategy with an innovation vision is going to become of great importance in the next year or two for most.

As we know, a business strategy is a long-term plan of action which is designed to help strengthen the performance within a business.

There are several components within a business strategy, but strategies typically last a period of between three to five years, of course depending on the type of business and the C-level executives in line.

For modern businesses especially, a business strategy is made to develop a set business plan which will include the necessary steps needed to move forward by implementing an IT or digital strategy to the business.

Develop a vision

You should have a vision of hopes and plans for what you believe the business will become, or at least what it will achieve within a set period of time.

Any successful business strategy stems from a vision, so if there isn’t already a vision outlined in all business meetings it may be wise to start by developing one first.

The vision could start from something so little such as what the business has to offer, to then rise up in consideration of how the business will stand out against competitors in the market.

It may also help to focus the vision of the business around the type of industry you are in, value proposition, customers, and the general market.

The first step to doing this is to call a meeting workshop and bring executives of the business together to share ideas to generate a vision.

Have an objective

Similar to having a vision, to define a business strategy you have to be able to identify where you are now to then be able to look ahead and consider where you plan to get to.

This can be built around a business objective, which provides a detailed structure of the necessary steps the business will take to achieve the set goal.

There are a selection of different tools and techniques available to help when building a business objective, such as a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. This is generally used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a business, in order to help put forward objectives for ways to either become better or identify what works and what doesn’t.

Create an action plan

Once you have a vision and an objective, the next step is to build an action plan towards how you plan to achieve everything that has been set.

Essentially, an action plan is an important part of the business strategy process as it sets out a go-ahead tool.

It can be structured in different ways, but it is advised to format an action plan in a way that it can be easily changed and update. It should be straightforward to understand, specific as to who does what and when to deliver the overall aims of the business.

See also: 8 steps for implementing a successful security plan.

Communicate ideas

As the old saying goes, ‘Communication is Key!’ and that especially applies to building a business strategy.

In order to define an effective business strategy, a team must come together and negotiate, discuss what needs work and what has been done well.

The communication, either through set meetings or workshops will effectively help to deliver results. This can be focused on what the next steps are going forward or even just basic togetherness of ideas to drive forward.

It is always advised to communicate everything with the CEO, but as well with everyone that works within the team of strategic planning.

Create a planning team

Realistically you cannot do everything alone.

This is why putting together a team is a good idea for help during every stage of the business strategy process. From developing a vision to building an action plan, it all works out within a team.

You can start by setting up a workshop amongst senior business executives to define major decisions made within the company, then go forward from there.

It is always best to plan a strategy with people that know the business well, so collaborating with other departments is a must.

Read next: CMO-CIO collaboration in the digital business.

Time management

When defining a business strategy, it is essential to get a clear understanding of the current stage of the business before formulating a plan as to when and how goals should be achieved.

It is ideal to have a realistic timeframe set out for when goals will be achieved, in doing this it also helps to organise the strategic planning process.

A set-up of weekly meetings and regular workshops is a good way to put the right timing in place effectively.

Read next: How a CIO can effectively manage their time.

Integrate IT

In a natural sense, IT should typically be applied to businesses as a way to move forward in a modern-day industry whilst also applying the world of digitalisation to the business.

It is also advised to integrate an IT strategy into the business strategy. What this means is bringing together the IT and technology requirements of the business into one field so that all functions are focused on.

This is also where the CIO is given the opportunity to identify how IT as a whole will support the business strategy.

Read next: Developing the right IT strategy - How to support business strategy with technology.

Performance management

The same attention paid to managing time, should also be paid to managing performance and that is something that tends to be forgotten during planning.

This will include addressing the right criteria’s within the strategic plan to supposedly help deliver the set goals from vision planning and onwards.

It also helps to review the business strategy process once in a while, just to track progress and other noticeable things that may have arisen along the way.

See also: How CIOs can get the most out of business intelligence data.

Be prepared for changes

During the preparation of a business strategy, there will be many noticeable changes, some small and others more dramatic.

The most important thing to remember during this period is that all the planning will eventually deliver an outcome and it is essential that the business is prepared well ahead of the changes.

To put this into effect, workshops can be delivered to demonstrate what is expected from the planning process and also what certain amendments will look like.

Review the strategy

Last but not least in the business strategy development process is to review. The same effort that goes into planning should be adopted towards reviewing.

It is important to identify development and any signposts that arise along the way in order to evaluate exactly what needs to be done.

The executive team and all members of the planning team should be able to regularly provide feedback in aid of a basic review to manage progress in meeting strategic aims and objectives that were set from the start.