Saturday, March 27, 2021

Characteristics of Initiatives

Developing a compelling strategic business case which describes the initiative’s benefits and costs flow is especially critical when an initiative is difficult to monetize. 

Digital enterprises are inherently complicated nowadays, with rapid changes and fierce competitions, organizations have to continue to build new business capabilities and “keep the lights on” by taking business initiatives and making solid deliveries consistently. 

Every business initiative is to solve a certain problem and achieve certain goals. There are strategic initiatives and tactical initiatives. The transition from a small initiative to demonstrate value to a completely integrated solution is a journey that continues as the organization's information needs continue to evolve with the business. Organizations have limited resources and budget, thus, it’s important to plan well, keep the “big picture” in mind and improve the success rate of business initiatives.

Initiative differentiation - can the business initiative differentiates the organization from its major competitors: Perhaps every business initiative has an “idea person,” a sponsor, and an implementer, etc. And behind many critical business initiatives, there are numerous points-of-view and reference points of varying stakeholders. For strategic business initiatives, a vision provides the guiding light and direction, if being implemented successfully, there is a significant impact on building differentiated business advantages. Thus, the management needs to check how the business initiative differentiates the organization from its major competitors? Are they competing for best quality, cost advantage or efficient value chain? Can their processes do what they promise? Without a clear vision and strategic planning, leaders often miss the big picture and become complacent or comfortable with the status quo.

Developing a compelling strategic business case which describes the initiative’s benefits and costs flow is especially critical when an initiative is difficult to monetize. That is, attaching believable dollar values to identified benefits flows. To manage a balanced business initiatives portfolio, a formal business requirement initiatives checklist includes such as enterprise mission and stakeholder needs analysis, enterprise system requirement development and management. So the management can make tough choices upon - when you reap the quick win, when you focus on long-term growth. The goal is to build base, competitive, and differential business advantage.

Initiative popularity - can the initiative restore the organization to competitive parity by reversing erosion in employee/customer loyalty? The digital era is about people and innovation. Any business initiatives should be viewed as an "opportunity" for solving problems effectively, improving employee productivity, delighting customers, cutting costs or optimizing products/services/processes, and improving people centricity. It’s an importance of looking for business initiatives which will directly benefit external end customers, improve business competencies and in-turn bring in increased revenue.

In many organizations that get stuck at the lower level of maturity, silo mindset, cloudy vision, poor strategy, overly rigid business processes, low mature business capability, or disengaged employees, etc, are all causes of business erosions. To overcome the challenge, there is an investment that is needed and initiatives should be taken in order to achieve the business goal and build competitive advantage. Sometimes, when one business area has a popular product or service that can be used by another, business leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions and amplify their business value, restore the organizational competitive parity and reach the premium level of digital maturity.

Initiative effectiveness- can the business initiative ensure the organization’s compliance with regulatory requirements, etc? Organizations today are inundated with the sea of information, overwhelmed with too many initiatives, and overloaded with operation and short term business concerns. Effective business initiatives require the highest risk-taking at a strategic value chain; including investments and manageability. Highly responsive organizations leverage effective risk management or compliance tools to monitor business initiatives & portfolio, alert the organization to risk conditions, and enable accountability and collaboration around changes impacting each firm.

However, in many organizations, much of risk and compliance is reactive in the sense that there is a lot of rushing around trying to fix problems after they have occurred. To improve organizational maturity, it’s important to set up governance initiatives in an organization for identifying those common risks which various stakeholders and actors in the organization have to deal in and aim to minimize; various rules and regulation the organization has to comply with in a holistic way, and all this in a composed fashion. To improve business effectiveness, keeping track of business activities is surely helpful in being proactive. It’s also important to focus on proactive planning, process optimization or rule updating for collaboration, accountability, and most importantly, integration.

There are functional initiatives and cross functional initiatives, quick win or long run focused initiatives, identifying what generates the most value for the company and expressing that in strategic objectives helps managers keep their eyes on what matters. Only initiatives that support the achievement of those objectives should be implemented. For the large scale of business initiatives, it’s important to establish a cross-functional team to involve multifaceted management, space and time are made to scope, plan, and execute in a structural way, and improve business maturity effectively.


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