Business-aligned IT strategy
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
by Erkan Gulec
What do we hear from those dialogues?
Well, very few Chiefs think that their IT organizations are making the maximum possible contribution to the business, despite all technological advances achieved during the 4th Industrial Revolution.
While IT organizations usually start with the best interests of the business in mind, most IT groups fail to reach their full potential somewhere along the journey.
Erkan Gulec and Svetlana Vityugova have discussed some of the ways to overcome certain failures in the recent article CEO Model For Project Portfolio Success; like choosing the right projects, executing them efficiently, and having effective Organizational Change Management in operationalizing to maximize adoption.
In almost all companies we see the elements of IT infrastructure, maintenance, and projects. We also see, if not often, the trust in IT organizations by their business partners. But not enough companies have fit-for-purpose IT strategy that is the part of IT with the most payback.
CIOs / CDOs / CTOs that we talk to, say that they do not have the time to develop a long-term IT strategy as the company does not have a well-articulated business strategy. Devoting the time and developing IT strategy are critical to bring your IT organization back in alignment with business strategy to maximize your IT organization’s value to business through better use of IT.
At TBM Partners, we can assist you in creating a business-aligned IT strategy and plan leveraging a pragmatic 3-Step approach. This methodology is neither new nor difficult; however, the critical success factor is the collaboration between the IT organization and its business partners.
Figure 1: IT Strategy Methodology.
In Step-1, the most important aspect is to take an objective view of how your IT organization is operating today and not to assume that things are going great. Key questions to answer are:
1. Has IT been successful in meeting business needs?
2. Are relations between IT and business partners collaborative?
3. Is the business getting benefits from IT investments?
Actively engage your business partners and seek their inputs during IT strategy creation process.
In Step-2, the most crucial point is to understand the future business strategy and how IT will help achieve your business goals and objectives. To achieve this:
1. Conduct interviews with key stakeholders across your company to understand their future direction, strategic priorities, and areas that IT can assist.
2. Conduct external research or benchmarking to understand how leading companies in your industry are leveraging IT to support their business.
Strike a balance between a bold, forward-looking IT strategy and something you can reasonably deliver in the next two to three years.
In Step-3, the most sensitive matter is to determine how much your company is willing to invest in the IT organization, along with realistic estimates for the time required to achieve your IT Future Vision defined in the previous step.
1. Develop 18-month IT strategy roadmap.
a. People – have the right team aligned with your business partners. You will likely make some organizational changes, hire more experienced staff to address skill-set gaps and conduct additional training.
b. Process – is the glue between People and Technology. Leverage standards and frameworks, such as, ITIL 4 and COBIT 2019 to adopt their best practices.
c. Technology – is certainly important to provide automation capabilities for your company but avoid spending disproportionate amount of time in this area. Focus on flexible, cost-effective, and scalable solutions to meet future demands of your business.
Find creative ways to communicate your IT strategy with your business partners. Update your IT strategy in line with your business planning period and upon key mandates (e.g., changing your business model or offering a new product or service.)
Without the IT strategy, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination. Can you guess where you are going? When will you get there? You will go wherever the wind blows.
In conclusion, a list of IT projects is not an IT strategy. Objectives are not strategy. IT policies and standards are not IT strategy. An architecture is not an IT strategy. Put all five of these elements together, you can have an IT strategy.
At TBM Partners we can help CIOs devote the time to establish future IT strategy for their organization and avoid getting caught up in tactical or daily issues.