In strategic decision making, we have certain expectations about the world and how it behaves. In order to find your blue ocean, you are on the lookout for distinguishing elements.
The aim is to make competition irrelevant by carving out for yourself a hopefully close to inimitable competitive advantage. These processes are often similar to paradigm shifts in sciences. These shift describe the advancement from one paradigm, e.g the sun circulates the earth, to another, e.g. the earth circulates the sun. Continue reading →
We have said a number of times on this blog that a strategy is useless unless it is accepted by the organisation and properly executed. You can make any decisions you like in an ivory tower but unless the troops on the ground are aligned – resistence will ensure failure to execute. It is also true to say that strategy is only effective if it evolves on a continuous basis, one of the reasons we built Strategy4IT was to make the documentation of the current state possible – to record not just one moment in time but to rather start a continuous cycle of strategy review and adaption. So, how do you make your organisation ready for change and adapt the necessary culture? Continue reading →
IT Governance is no piece of cake. While there is no such thing as one-size governance, “over-governance” and “under-governance” are pretty easy to spot. The terrors of the former include redundant committees, attendees who show up because “it’s nice to know what’s going on,” and long paper trails that obstruct decision-making. The problems associated with the latter are arguably even uglier: failed audits, delayed projects, and political crises. As the CIO, you need to strike the right balance in setting up governance, and then walk the tightrope ever on…. To continue reading this article, please visit our sister blog from cibsys directly via this link: ‘Setting up the right IT Governance’
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 →
With the pending end to the year and a new financial year starting for many of our clients I pose this question to you: why is it that the business cycle for strategy and budgets must so often be annual? We see so often in the corporate landscape that firms aligned decisions processes to artificial cycles driven by financial reporting. Good ideas have to wait until they match the budget and finance cycle and in my view (as well as possibly many others who felt trapped by this before) this just does not make sense. I have written on this topic before (“Same procedure as every year”) and I strongly believe it is time that organisations break the annual cycle deadlock.
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.
The BBC draws attention in it’s article Why IT failures at big companies are unlikely to go away to one of the largest challenges in developing and defining an end to end strategy – the aging of software – for organisations, especially larger, older and more complex ones. However, not only is this a challenge for larger organisations but also for SMEs. It is all to easy for reasons of economy to avoid upgrades, bypass patches and to generally keep the status quo. The article states that maybe as much as 20% of any software in organisations, and not just big banks, is out of date. Any house or car owner knows the perils of failing to update things before they reach the end of their life – would you drive a car with worn of tyres or eat something that has already past the best before date? But somehow we are happy to run software that is years past its replacement date.
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.
In my last blog entry I was discussing how to include an understanding of your suppliers into your strategy. A key tool to assess effectiveness of systems and the services around them is to construct a service scorecard to rank IT priorities.
Start by getting your top IT objectives together and extract those of the most critical priority; make sure these align to the wider business objectives. For example if your firm has an objective “Reach more international customers” as a top priority, maybe critical service objectives aligned to this could be: “Strong multilingual support services” or “24 hour global support availability”. If your organisation is promoting product development and new products as a high priority then service adaptability and ability to adjust to new markets might be important.
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.