Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CIO as Strategist: What’s in your Strategic Planning

IT strategy is satisfied just through the WHAT-HOW transitions from corporate strategy


The whole purpose of the strategy of any kind is to envision the future success, then figure out how to execute to that end. IT strategy should always be an integral component of corporate strategy. What would be a good content for IT strategic plan? Should CIOs simply develop IT plans to support existing business strategy or should they, in addition, be working in the business to identify areas where IT can make a positive contribution to the bottom line and top line growth?

IT Strategy needs to closely link to the Business Strategy: Set the Business strategy as the basis. Then carry-out an As-is assessment of the IT environment and create your IT strategy accordingly. Take care to not distance yourself from directly linked business value. One of the key ways that a CIO can become a business leader (and not just a technology manager) is to become connected at the hip with the business. By understanding WHAT organization is going to do to enable each and every business initiative defined in corporate strategy (assuming there is strategy efforts defined, not just a 3-5 year financial plan). Then within the IT ranks, CIOs can take each of these WHATs, and figure out the HOW that will implement and execute the strategy effectively.  

IT strategy is satisfied just through the WHAT-HOW transitions from corporate strategyThe IT strategic plan must be closely tied to that of the business.  Strategic planning identifies where the organization wants to be at some point in the future and how it is going to get there. The "strategic" part of this planning process is the continual attention to current changes in the organization and its external environment, and how this affects the future of the organization. The WHY (strategy) is potentially satisfied by a set of WHATs (business initiatives) that are executed by a set of HOWs (project efforts). Projects have elements in multiple functional organizations, including IT.

The strategy must be crafted in such a way that it matches (or enhances) the maturity level of the organization. It must also be compelling so that it does not simply sit on the shelf after it is developed. a) Taking a wide look around at what's going on outside the organization and how it might affect the organization (an environmental scan), and identifying opportunities and threats b) Taking a hard look at what's going on inside the organization, including its strengths and weaknesses (perhaps doing a SWOT analysis) c) Establishing statements of mission, vision and values (some prefer to do that as the first step in planning) d) Establishing goals to accomplish over the next (usually) three years or so, as a result of what's going on inside and outside the organization e) Identifying how those goals will be reached (strategies, objectives, responsibilities, and timelines)

IT strategic plan needs to be a community effort, not something the IT team does alone in a corner. You need to talk to the business people, find out what their key initiatives are, and discuss how IT can facilitate, enable or support their initiatives. Talk about shared goals, and shared risks. Discuss timelines and milestones. Identify metrics and KPIs that will be shared across teams, and talk about funding and resource commitments.
1) Understand the business goals.
2) Understand the outcome of the goals.
3) Understand the business roadmap.
4) Understand the functions of the various departments.
5) Understand the kind of information required by the decision makers
6) Understand the kind of information required by the customers
7) Understand the products and services of the business
8) Find the gaps in all of the above and fill them.

The IT plan must be ‘driven’ by the business strategic plan for the same time frame. The business plan determines the IT plan. A set of corporate strategies (there is never one, but seldom more than 5-10), each has a set of business initiatives identified as potential methods of executing that strategy. Each strategy should have a set of metrics associated with measuring, at the very least, the direction of change, if not the magnitude. Each business initiative has a set of required project activities. HOW is IT going to not only enable those projects < initiatives < strategy to work, but also HOW is IT going to create more value than what would be possible with IT as a basic service organization?  
There are so many ways in which you need to cascade strategy down to the tactical, policy and project levels.IT Strategy has to take into account current infrastructure and new business objectives that may (should) require the use of technology. The detailed elements that flesh this out depend on the business focus area; although a summary set of slides demonstrating interim architectures together with the business features that have become available is the backbone. Backing this up with descriptions of the projects, portfolio cost, benefit and outline approach, technology, aggregate risk, dependencies and organizational structure changes
The planning process is at least as important as the planning document itself. The planning process is never "done" -- the planning process is a continuous cycle that's part of the management process itself. There are a set of goals associated with each strategy - typically a balanced scorecard view - and all strategic execution subordinate functions, contribute to those goals. Making strategic planning agile, dynamic to embrace the change, enforce iterative communication and continuous improvement


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