No matter how clean and accessible your business documentation is, it is dead weight if it’s out of date. And this is the sad reality in many organisations today. Your business is growing, optimising, and doing things differently every day. Document maintenance becomes a nightmare. Continue reading
Whenever we kick of a strategy study in our consulting business with a client, we face a classic choice – do we involve the team from the start or work in a think tank and then syndicate the results. I was fascinated to notice that this dilemma occurs more often as mentioned in the recent BBC Article ‘The Difficult Art of a Good Brainstorm’.
There are many relevant points in the article but I think a fundamental point has been omitted that applies to many organisations, especially larger ones. It is of little relevance how good the idea is as long as the organisation does not buy into it. Therefore consulting the wider team in early stages can be critical to paving the way to future radical change. In order to achieve a mental alignment, it is important to to assess early on whether the strategy is likely to just be an ‘evolution’ from where you are today or more a ‘revolution’. Continue reading
In the early days of IT we saw the simple capture of data and automation of basic repetitive processes – frankly by around the 1990s this wave of automation was largely complete. We have seen in the subsequent years the rise of the automation of reporting and monitoring systems. It is now time for the automation of decision making. All around from the rise of Big Data to the social network, semi-automated decision making processes are now enabling sound decision making, e.g. where to invest money, who to connect with on Linkedin to where to have lunch.
From a business perspective the saying “if it is not broken don’t fix it” is often applied to IT systems. Finding the investment to keep up with the market can be a challenge, and it is often tempting to just avoid any efforts or costs of an upgrade. Even on our mobile phones we all fear that notification that a new version is available and hit the upgrade button with trepidation; not knowing if the app will successfully install or worse, the whole phone dies. When applied in the business enterprise that trepidation translates into an inertia to upgrade that can become a massive penalty down the line as the gap to the latest version opens up. This gets worse as the enterprise gets larger and the decision making more centralised.
Following on from my previous blog post, I am going to relate a rather extreme story of what happens when you fail to keep up with the IT market place, fail to update your software and keep your IT portfolio current. This is a real story that occurred in a bank.
We have discussed extensively on this blog the selection of solutions and their alignment to business processes, but an aspect of IT strategy that must not be overlooked is the consideration of suppliers and the active management of vendors to fit the strategy.
That is an intense headline but it is true. So why you might ask am I wasting my time blogging about IT strategy if no one is interested!? Because of course they are interested, indirectly. The article The best IT strategy is no IT strategy makes the point eloquently.
Business people want business strategy – any IT strategy must therefore be set in the context of the overall objectives for the organisation; ignore the headline business requirements at your peril. There is no point writing lots of detail about technical solutions and the wonderful next best technical thing if that is not going to contribute to the bottom line of the business. The CEO needs solutions to help him beat the competition, push up profit and deliver a higher return. Even cost is often secondary to driving up revenue.
In the final stage of the process you should be looking at defining your roadmap and multi-year plan. i.e. how you plan to move forward with your IT strategy in the future. This blog completes the steps recommended for an effective IT strategy.
With an idea of the target vision for the IT systems and services the final step to a comprehensive strategy is to define the steps and to implement it. It is not just sufficient to say what changes will be made but also to define how the services will evolve to improve costs, provide a costs benefit against business targets and how service levels will be adjusted. Ideally at each step behaviour changes in the organisation and changes to process flows will be needed too.
This blog post explores the second of three stages of my twelve step process towards an effective IT strategy. At this stage we look at defining the target IT landscape you would ideally like to achieve with your strategy.
At the heart of any strategy is the target landscape of systems and services that needs to be built in order to achieve the business goals. It is absolutely critical that this landscape is built not on the whims of individual departments and characters (including the CIO) but in a more holistic way aligned to the business objectives and also in a way to resolve specific issues. The old saying “if it aint broke don’t fix it” goes a long way in this stage.
This blog post underlines in importance of what I see as the first of three stages in completing an effective IT strategy – understanding where you are. Keep checking back for the second and third steps in the process.
Some consultants will call this “as now” or “current state” analysis. Whatever you call it, the critical point is that you must understand where you are and what you have before you can write any strategy to change it. Firms have all sorts of inventories but rarely have a good understanding of the systems and services they have, and more importantly how effective they are in terms of meeting business goals.