Thursday, November 2, 2017

CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer: Leading Effectively via Dynamic Planning

The planning fallacy is common inside and outside of the business at both strategic and operational management level.

Business is full of uncertainty, volatility, and complexity. The increasing pace of changes means unpredictability and un-repetitiveness. Planning and forecasting become challenging, and planning fallacy is a business reality. Still, forward-thinking and well-managed companies need to keep planning and keep improving. With change as new normal, perhaps plans are nothing, but planning is everything. The goal of dynamic planning is to keep iterating, learning and working on a rhythm of sustained delivery and making continuous improvement. CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer”: How to lead effectively via dynamic planning?

Change planning: Organizational change management needs to go hand-in-hand with strategy management nowadays. A Strategy for "change" should focus on betterment. Planning is an effective way to achieve change if planning effort in integrated with normal management practices. Change planning is about stakeholder engagement and how to achieve stakeholders’ ownership of the emerging strategy, plans, and roadmap. Change objectives must be well defined, understood, and accepted through planning. Well planned Change Management with comprehensible understanding will greatly reduce and practically eliminate the fear of change that derails good or even great intentions, and have a better opportunity to achieve expectations for changes. Both change management process and culture readiness are critical, defining the desired change result before plowing into any effort, and facing inevitable questions, learning styles, technology issues, etc., through anticipatory preparation for changes. In practice, top management sponsorship is critical to change management success; at a tactical level, working in cooperation with a change manager, schedule your change activities as part of the planning, to ensure that the cart is never before the horse, and there is sufficient time to prepare the stakeholders for the changes on the way.

Capacity planning: Capacity planning needs to be part of the corporate initiatives around continuous improvement. Too many IT organizations operate in reactive mode and get stuck at a lower level of maturity as a cost center. A quality capacity planning program within IT will enable CIOs to switch to a proactive mode and bring you in control. IT capacity planning allows for a transparent view from across the organization that should help level the playing field. Capacity planning will not lower the workload, but give management a true picture of activities so a decision can be made on the ideal workload. The key to successful capacity planning is to know what you are doing, being transparent, and clear leadership at all levels and governance so everyone knows what they are to execute on. Any minute saved fixing issues will enable you to spend another minute preventing one and supporting business initiatives. Thus, capacity modeling is just one of the activities that are required for a high performing IT department. To scale the best practice, if all the departments in an organization practice capacity planning, you will move closer to enhance organizational harmony and efficacy.

IT budget planning: Most businesses calculate the IT operating budget as a percentage of the corporate operating budget, followed by the IT operating budget as a percentage of revenue, and cost per employee served per year. The IT budgeting process at most companies still looks like the same old exercise in containing IT costs. For many IT organizations, spending on IT maintenance and mandatory changes for legal and compliance reasons will still remain stubbornly high. IT budget struggle is real because supporting legacy platforms (both hardware and software) can easily consume a large portion of IT budget; IT also has been doing more transaction budgeting—tracking IT costs on a per-unit basis. IT budgeting process in many organizations still get stuck in the past, the management thinks their company’s budget process isn’t consistent with what CIOs are planning to drive significant change and manage digital transformation, So, an essential question for IT leaders is whether their IT budgeting matches the level of tech innovation they expect by improving capital flow, while keeping total spending mostly flat. With emergent digital technologies, IT management has better opportunities to optimize cost, move cost model from CapEx to OpEx, make IT budget planning more dynamic, keep the capital flow and do more with innovation.

The planning fallacy is common inside and outside of the business at both strategic and operational management level. To make planning effective and practical, it is important to get the bigger picture and be clear on what, who, when, and how to achieve business goals based on the financial value and available resources. Practice planning management via iterative communication, incremental goal implementation, customer-centric viewpoint, and make a necessary delegation implementation plan collaboratively and seamlessly.


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