Wednesday, March 11, 2020

IT Strategic Planning and Alignment

To reinvent IT as a trustful business partner with transparency, IT leaders need to take the bold move in pursuing strategic engagement with the business, integrate IT strategy into business strategy.

Nowadays information technology provides an important structure and a strong pillar to build a powerful digital enterprise. IT touches almost every business initiative, every underlying function, and structure. However, far too many IT organizations are really focused on the tactical approach to fixing issues.

To reinvent IT as a trustful business partner, CIOs need to make strategic planning and alignment, proactively push ideas on how to leverage IT to drive business revenue growth, improve business responsiveness, flexibility, profitability, and overall IT maturity.

The business strategic planning determines IT strategic planning: Strategic planning is the dynamic process that needs to navigate the full set of “Ws: Why, What, How, Who, When and Where, etc,” for implementing well-set strategic goals of IT organization. First, define the business strategy as the basis. Then, carry-out an “As-is” assessment of the IT environment and develop IT strategic planning accordingly.

In a well-articulated IT strategic plan, establish IT statements of mission, vision, and values, define strategic goals to accomplish over the medium and long term period of time, as a result of what's going on inside and outside the organization. Then, identify how those goals will be reached (strategies, objectives, responsibilities, and timelines), the organization's competitive portfolio, business capabilities, Project Investment Priority, GRC, and talent development planning, etc.

IT strategic planning can be used as a guideline to reinvent IT as a valuable business partner. Each business initiative has a set of required project activities to address how IT is going to not only enable those projects < initiatives < strategy to work, but also how IT is going to create more value than what would be possible with IT as a basic service organization.

IT strategic planning needs to ensure a seamless strategic alignment process of creating IT goals from the main corporate goal: Strategic alignment is about translating the business strategy into operational activities and aligning the organization to create business synergy. IT-business alignment addresses both how IT is aligned with the business and how business should be aligned with IT. Strategic alignment and synchronization can catalyze the flow of the right information to the right people timely to coordinate and execute strategy, tactics, and manage risks.; “keep an eye on the horizon,” look for and assess emerging technologies and determine the business viability. IT has both internal and external customers. IT strategic alignment also means making IT-customer alignment via understanding customers with empathy and capturing the people-centric trend.

The misalignment is usually caused by silo thinking, miscommunication, lack of cross-functional understanding and collaboration, or simply wrong people put in the wrong position to solve the wrong problems. IT-business misalignment enlarges the strategy management gap and decelerates the organizational speed. Alignment is a continuous process that demands continuous attention, deliberately close alignment among the company’s strategic direction. Those organizations that have a high mature strategic alignment via integration, collaboration, harmony, etc, outperform their competitors and tend to be more responsive to the business dynamic.

Make IT strategic planning dynamic to embrace change, enforce iterative communication, and continuous improvement: Digital strategic management is both a system and process to deal with dynamic and iterative planning and execution continuum. Good IT strategic planning requires taking a hard look at what’s going on inside the IT organization including its strengths and weaknesses, taking a deep look at the underlying business functions and processes, as well as taking a wider look around at what’s going on outside the organization, identifying opportunities and risks and suggested actions.

The degree of planning has a positive correlation with the degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. Because it is easy to look like you are making progress by focusing on tactical issues. It is very much harder and requires courage and skills to really tackle what is wrong at the strategic level. Making long-term strategic planning is a must-do “thing” in uncertain times to embrace change proactively. It is an iterative process that needs to be monitored and controlled (inside vs outside, internal vs external factors). At best, it keeps the management on track and achieves the desired outcome and at worst, it helps in minimizing the pain or loss. IT strategic planning is critical to enforce iterative communication and continuous improvement

To reinvent IT as a trustful business partner with transparency, IT leaders need to take the bold move in pursuing strategic engagement with the business, integrate IT strategy into business strategy and make IT strategic planning and implementation as an iterative continuum, in order to run IT as a business inside the business and unleash the full potential of the enterprise.


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