CIOs should review their IT strategies every month if they really want to help the business, says IT analyst firm Ovum.
Lead analyst Mark Blowers (pictured) warns that many IT departments review their IT strategy once a year - when it comes around to negotiating the annual IT budget.
As a result, CIOs are often put under pressure to tailor their IT strategies to the latest budget cuts, rather than the real needs of the business, he says.
"You need an IT strategy that is built on, and is a living entity. You will be seen to be more responsive to the business," he said.
Effective IT Management. Click here to download this report from Mark Blowers (requires registration)
Without regular reviews, IT departments can easily fall into the trap of rolling out technology in a piecemeal fashion, says Blowers.
IT departments deploy tactical solutions to meet each business challenge, which leads to overlapping generations of technology.
Businesses should decide on a standard enterprise architecture and make sure each project is consistent with the overall strategy, says Blowers.
"It's important before you embark on a project, you have a good idea of how it fits in to where you want to go," he said.
It is also vital for IT departments to understand the costs of the services they are providing, Blowers argues.
"It's difficult to get a handle on, but if you don't know the cost of the services you are providing, it's difficult to know whether you are providing value to the business, " he said.
There are standard tools and software that can help IT departments work out their costs. IT managers are often surprised by the results, says Blowers.
Larger organisations can align their IT strategies more closely to business by creating de-centralised IT teams.
"There is a move to make IT more flexible. Companies are looking to move the IT organisation away from a fixed structure to make it more engaging to the rest of the business," he said.
"It is still the fact that the majority of IT managers are dealing with day to day issues and fire-fighting. IT strategy is something that is done when they have time. And IT managers don't tend to have the time."