I wanted to call this piece ‘A random drive down Camino Real’.
But that is an ‘in joke’ and no one would get it.
So instead I called in ‘Developing and Aligning IT Strategy’.
I know, it’s not a snappy title, but it’s not a snappy subject.
I am of the opinion that information technology is a tool which should be used to support organisational goals.
I also believe that we should seriously ask ourselves that if aspects of IT do not support organisational goals then are they really worth bothering with?
My answer would be a resounding ‘no’. But others believe in the tooth fairy.
Because, in these days the superficial technical elegance, the packaging, the image, has become the content.
We hail technical elegance.
But superficial technical elegance and style are not ends in themselves.
Nor is process or method elegance a sustainable advantage.
That’s not what it is about.
It’s about real strategy and sound execution.
In IT we must learn to do the right things right, not merely do things right.
Doing things by the book went out many years ago.
But ‘winging it’ didn’t.
So that return on investment can be maximised.
So that losses can be limited and curtailed.
Therefore, costs and benefits must be quantified.
Risks should always be identified and the approach to avoiding, mitigating and managing them should be clearly defined´.
In addition, core IT solutions must be highly flexible to allow for functionality to keep ahead of business change.
There should now exist a range of companies with considerable knowledge and experience in assisting a wide range of organisations to develop new IT strategies and to help organisation to realign existing IT strategies with their current business needs.
This isn’t what should happen.
Especially when we focus on IT service companies, and those who compete on notional price, quantity and availability.
But it doesn’t.
And this is why.
Typically service providers fail to engage in the process in any meaningful, constructive and value-adding way.
Sure, a provider may have a CMMi rating of 5.
But if they don’t know how to interact with your organisation, that rating means fuck all.
For example, they usually ‘forget’ about assessing the effectiveness of an existing IT strategy and working practices.
And are generally oblivious to the need to help organisations to develop a new or updated strategy which integrates IT with organisational objectives.
This means that your ‘best IT partner’ may just be your worst organisational partner.
That’s what happens with a lot of outsourcing and offshoring.
So, what are the real problems and triggers?
We can see that organisations must develop or rejuvenate their IT strategies in response to a variety of drivers derived from the eco-sphere.
There is a wide and pressing need for competitive advantage (e.g. from cost leadership or increased market share), requiring increased customer service, decreased time to market, reduced cost, and improved product/service differentiation or focus.
There is also a move towards a melee of technical platforms, e.g. the old fashioned trend of downsizing from proprietary mainframes to open systems or to networks. This often involves moving to and then beyond client-server architectures.
In addition, distributed data and/or processing should be seriously considered. But only if it makes absolute sense, and many times it doesn’t.
And don’t forget.
All of this is often accompanied by a tsunami of arrant bullshit. Such as that found in ‘cloud’ and ‘big data’ hyperbole.
So, what are some of the motivators, the drives and the imperatives?
- A wish to exploit other new options becoming available because of advances in technology. Relevant areas include image and workflow, data warehousing, business intelligence, large volume data harvesting, social groupware, the ‘interwebs of things’ and hugely improved and sophisticated multi-channel interactive communications.
- Concerns over the management and control of the balance between the move back to centralised IT department and end-user point-of-use computing.
- Introduction and socialisation of the benefits and features of better end-user, analytic and predictive tools.
- Analysis of the cost-effectiveness and risks of outsourcing all or part of IT.
- A wish to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the department, eg to reduce the application backlog, implement CASE tools, or bring runaway projects back under control.
So what are the benefits of this approach? Here’s another list:
- Confidence that the IT strategy will work from both viewpoints: our business experience will ensure IT objectives are aligned with the business; our technical experience will ensure that any well-grounded technical solution is cost-effective and practical.
- Buy-in from all three stakeholders is inherent in the approach. That means Business management, IT management and relevant business stakeholders are all specifically ‘included in’.
- The solution will ensure that you will take a fresh and creative look at the options available. This will allow you to understand in tangible and clear terms where your organisation wants to be, and where it is now.
- It is also important to remember that existing culture and legacy investments must be nurtured and not ignored.
- Teamwork approach: I believe in working in partnership with our clients. Our aim throughout is to deliver high quality results to form the basis of long term relationships.
- Reduced risk. Believe it or not, but there are also reliable professionals who will help implement what is recommended, and we will be pleased to help turn the theory into successful practice.
- The work can be supported by an efficient and effective Change Management and System Integration services.
Some of the key deliverables of a full IT enabled strategy are:
- A documented set of critical success factors and associated performance measures which have been clearly defined and explicitly agreed.
- A well-documented high level architecture containing the key target applications to be considered, prioritised and implemented.
- A clear, simple and exhaustive high-level documentation of the technology infrastructure required.
- An ambiguous roadmap, plan and detailed description of the ‘to be’ organisational structure and management structure.
- A fully detailed implementation plan that clearly and tangibly is driven by tangible deliverables and their manufacture.
These are amongst the artefacts that are required.
The ones you must pay particular attention to.
This was just an afterthought. But I think it needs to be stated. Because it is actually very important.
Doing things mindlessly by the book went out many years ago.
But unfortunately ‘winging it’ didn’t.
Winging it gives variable and unpredictable results.
If you have better and more intelligent options then don’t just wing it.
Winging it without the pressure of necessity is simply being reckless and unprofessional.
It’s the malpractice of business and the business of malpractice.
So, beware of the big names who make a livelihood getting paid by the likes of you and me to simply ‘wing it’.
They never learn, and they never reapply knowledge and experience, because they never acquire it.
The only thing they are intent on acquiring is as much as your money as they can get away with.
Outsource and offshore that ‘thought for the day’. If you dare.
File under: Good Strat, Good Strategy, Martyn Richard Jones, Martyn Jones, Cambriano Energy, Iniciativa Consulting, Iniciativa para Data Warehouse, Tiki Taka Pro