Assuming a well-executed Planning Phase, you would have identified who will be affected, what will change, and how they will change. Move forward with these steps, to make the change:
This phase is typically the longest and needs to be executed repetitively throughout the effort to ensure consistent communication, measurement and improvement. Note that making the change is necessary but not sufficient, you will need to continue to reinforce the change to ensure adoption.
What elements are most critical to you when your organization is in the throes of making a change?
In the last blog in this series, we established that IT Strategy is the set of objectives, principles and plans that IT must use to support the company’s business strategy. Therefore alignment with business strategy is key to ensure that IT Strategy is moving in the right direction. The question is how do we achieve alignment?
Aligning with business strategy involves a few key steps:
These few steps will ensure that IT capabilities will align with the needs of the business. It must be noted that business strategy may change periodically as the company monitors the competitive landscape. Therefore the IT organization must keep their eye on business strategy to ensure that they are responsive to any changes.
It should also be noted that technology might from time-to-time provide some competitive advantages. As an example, the automated reservation system Sabre, gave American Airlines a competitive advantage when it was first introduced. Since then, all airlines have developed or adopted automated reservation systems and now there is no significant competitive advantage from this technology. The point is that if the IT organization can build technology that provides a competitive advantage for the business, it should be included in the company’s business strategy.
In summary, IT strategy reflects the IT organization’s capabilities in support of the business strategy. Therefore alignment with the business strategy is paramount for the development of the IT strategy. Once IT and the business objectives are aligned, the next step is to look at the gaps in IT capabilities to deliver the business vision. We will discuss this in more detail in our next blog in the series.
How do you go about aligning your company’s IT and business strategies?
IT personnel are very familiar with computer rooms, data centers, call centers and network operations centers (NOCs). However, typically only a few IT personnel are charged with the responsibility of actually selecting or assessing such a facility. This may become necessary due to company growth, acquisition of another company or to ensure that a provider’s facility is adequate to provide services to their customers. Following a thoughtful approach to performing a site assessment will minimize the risks of having mission-critical systems operate out of a sub-standard facility. In order to perform a thorough, quality assessment of a technical facility, there are a few key things to consider:
1. Prepare for Site Visits
A comprehensive PMO Framework is critical to seeing a project successfully through; a Framework we have used with clients includes 4 phases: Concept, Initiation, Delivery and Close.
The initiation phase, the second of four phases, is critical because it is the phase in which you set yourself up for success! You finalize your goals, your team, your schedule and budget. In order to make sure you don’t miss any key activities during this phase, we have provided you with our PM Checklist below.
The activities undertaken during the Initiation phase ensure that you and your team are set up to succeed; you will confirm and finalize your goals and determine how you will achieve them. This phase prepares you to launch your project with a realistic timeline and budget.
Are there any additional steps or suggestions you have for activities during the initiation phase?
Before we understand IT Strategy we need to understand strategy itself. Strategy is a word that is used often incorrectly or at least ambiguously. This may be because of varying definitions that are provided by various sources. Let’s demystify it.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, strategy is: A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim. In plain English, strategy is nothing more than a plan to achieve a long-term goal. Military leaders know that a strategy is a means to outflank and outwit an opponent by outthinking, out-planning and out-executing them. This definition of strategy has more relevance to a business.
Professor Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School provides great insights about what a strategy is for a business. According to Porter, Strategy is about doing something unique that is of value, uniquely. Porter’s view is that by doing this, businesses can differentiate themselves and maintain a competitive advantage.
So, what is IT Strategy and can IT have its own strategy? In a word, no. By Porter’s definition an IT organization cannot have its own strategy, as it is not trying to differentiate itself from other technology groups. Rather, it is supporting and enabling the strategy of the business as a whole.
So what then is IT strategy? According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, IT Strategy is the discipline that defines how IT will be used to help businesses within their chosen business context. In this perspective, the IT Strategy must ensure that IT has the capabilities to support the business strategy in terms of people, processes and technology.
Defining the elements of IT Strategy is a difficult exercise. Here is an overview of how we recommend developing an IT Strategy:
We will continue to flesh these out more fully in future blogs. Stay tuned! Please tell us how you might go about developing IT Strategy.
ProcureVision, LLC is a management consulting company that enables our client's business success through the optimization of their people, process and technology. We provide creative, customized and completely implementable solutions.