7 Steps to Build Your 2024 IT Strategic Plan

2024 IT Action PlanIn our 3T@3 Series event in December, we discussed creating your 2024 IT Action Plan. During the session, we walked through a proven process for building a feasible plan for the coming year.

Here is a breakdown of 7 key steps in the process

1 Define Your Business Drivers

Your first step is to assess your business drivers.  What are the conditions, internally and externally, that you expect to impact your business over the coming year?

External drivers are generally beyond your control or influence: changes in the economy, evolving customer needs and priorities, shifts in business conditions in your target markets, and changes to the competitive landscape.

Internal drivers are within your control. What are your goals and objectives? Which are priorities, needs, or wants?  Do you have defined business plans and targets for investment?

Many of your internal drivers may be responding to external drivers.  Identifying these drivers, and their priority, will guide business and technology solutions over the coming year.

2 Review Your IT Lifecycle

Review your hardware and software inventory, and where each item sits in its lifecycle. Document applications or systems due upgrades; catalog servers, infrastructure, and user devices due for replacement.  Use this assessment to schedule necessary expenditures.

Also, consider if now is the time to upgrade or replace older systems with managed cloud-based solutions or services. Doing so can reduce capital expenditures and may provide more scalable resources and services.

3 Define IT Initiatives

Having planned for scheduled hardware and software refreshes, use your priorities list of business drivers to create a finite set of IT initiatives.

Your business drivers should trigger business decisions, actions, and plans. Analyze these plans for how IT services can enable or support the desired actions and outcomes. This strategy and analysis becomes your IT requirements for the coming year.  The priority of your business goals and objectives will set the priority for your IT initiatives.

Your IT initiatives are defined, manageable projects that meet your IT requirements.

4 Benchmark Your Security CPR

Security CPR is our model for pragmatic protection for your business.

  • Communicate & Educate
  • Protect & Prevent
  • Respond & Recover

Your IT initiatives will, without a doubt, interact with your security services.  Take a step back and review your security protocols and systems.

  • Verify that you remain in compliance with legal and industry regulations
  • Validate that your IT initiatives will do no harm, or will enhance your security profile
  • Adjust your security services to changing risks, priorities, and threats

5 Set Clear Priorities

Your budget has limits.  With security considerations in place, prioritize your IT spending. We recommend prioritizing within three distinct categories:

  • Lifecycle Events – Replace and upgrade aging hardware and software
  • Operating Expenses – Ongoing costs for cloud, services, and resources
  • Investments – Your IT initiatives

6 Build Your Budget

Allocate your target budget to each of the categories.  Fund items in each group from highest priority on down.

One key to building the budget is to facilitate some give and take.  Moving budget between categories can be done, carefully, in ways that benefit each aspect of your IT spending.

For example, moving to Remote Desktops in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) cloud can extend the life of desktops and laptops by 2 to 3 years. Delaying system upgrades can be a safe move if your initiatives are working towards replacement.

7 Create Your Schedule

While it is natural to want to get everything done right away and all at once, thoughtful scheduling increases your likelihood of success for your 2024 IT Action Plan.

Scheduling starts with actions: the what, when, how, and how of your IT initiatives. Smart scheduling will also include consideration of dependencies and resource availability.

Going one step further, review your business cycle limitations. Avoid scheduling projects, particularly critical paths, that conflict with more intense periods within your business cycle. You may have a busy season, or need to be careful not to impact your quarterly close and reporting. Whatever demands your business cycle creates, adjust your planning and schedule around them.

How Cumulus Global Can Help You

We focus on helping clients get the most value from their current IT services and new, cloud forward solutions.  As you build your 2024 IT Action Plan, we can help. With a history of strategic IT consulting services, we can help you build your plan, review plans you have drafted, or simply discuss options.

Click here to schedule a call with a Cloud Advisor or send us an email. There is no cost and no obligation.

About the Author

Bill Seybolt bio pictureBill is a Senior Cloud Advisor responsible for helping small and midsize organizations with cloud forward solutions that meet their business needs, priorities, and budgets. Bill works with executives, leaders, and team members to understand workflows, identify strategic goals and tactical requirements, and design solutions and implementation phases. Having helped over 200 organizations successfully adopt cloud solutions, his expertise and working style ensure a comfortable experience effective change management. 


Google Upgrade Prevents SPAM and Defines Email Best Practices for 2024

Google email sender guidelines updates coming in 2024: how to prepare

Google constantly works to enhance security and reduce the prevalence of spam in Google Workspace and Gmail inboxes. AI-powered defenses successfully filter out almost 15 billion undesired emails each day. Google stops over 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware threats. Still, as spamming techniques evolve, threats to user security persist.  Google will deploy new rules for bulk email senders. These Google email sender guidelines and rules prevent SPAM using email best practices that we should all follow.

Improving Security with Google Email Validation

Starting in February 2024, Google will implement new criteria for bulk senders (i.e., accounts that send more than 5,000 messages to Gmail users in a single day). These new email sender guidelines and requirements focus on email validation, and the evaluation of an email address’s legitimacy. 

New Email Requirements for Bulk Senders:

  • Authenticate Email: Bulk senders must strongly authenticate their emails. This protects against the exploitation of loopholes by malicious actors and allows users to trust the source behind the emails they receive.
  • Enable Easy Unsubscribe: Bulk senders will be required to provide recipients with an easy, one-click option to unsubscribe from commercial emails. These unsubscription requests must also be processed within a time period of two days.
  • Send Wanted Emails: Google will set a clear spam rate threshold to protect Gmail users from receiving an abundance of unwanted emails. Notably, this measure is an industry first. 

This Change Impacts You 

If email is part of your marketing program, even if you are not a bulk sender, these rules impact you. While Google is enforcing these rules for bulk senders, following these rules improves your email results. By improving your email reputation, and reducing the risk of impersonation, your emails are more likely to land in the inbox rather than the junk or spam folder. 

Things to Consider to be Ready for The Bulk Sender Changes Happening in February 2024

1 Make sure your Domain Name Service (DNS) email settings and protocols are correct and complete.

2  Preferably, use an email marketing platform instead of your Google Workspace account for large group and bulk marketing emails.

  • Email marketing platforms give you the ability for easy un-subscribe and will provide the necessary features to comply with the anti-spam and data privacy laws and regulations.
  • Google limits the number of recipients per email and the number of emails you can send per day. Google may suspend your account if you exceed these limits.

Your Next Steps to Prepare for New Google Email Sender Guidelines

Contact us or click here to schedule a call with a Cloud Advisor  to review your DNS protocol settings and our Managed DNS Services.

For more details about Google policies that impact emails received by, and sent from, Google Workspace, review Google’s Email Sender Guidelines.

About the Author

Allen Falcon is the co-founder and CEO of Cumulus Global.  Allen co-founded Cumulus Global in 2006 to offer small businesses enterprise-grade email security and compliance using emerging cloud solutions. He has led the company’s growth into a managed cloud service provider with over 1,000 customers throughout North America. Starting his first business at age 12, Allen is a serial entrepreneur. He has launched strategic IT consulting, software, and service companies. An advocate for small and midsize businesses, Allen served on the board of the former Smaller Business Association of New England, local economic development committees, and industry advisory boards.