What went wrong in 2020?
I know, it’s a big question and most people would probably say “Everything.” Or at least, many CIOs would confess that the original strategic plans they had for 2020 were not executed.
There were many initiatives that just failed to get off the ground in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Now that 2020 is winding down — what happens to those initiatives? Should you try to execute on them in 2021? Are they even still valuable to your organization? Will you still have the capital for them? How can you afford them?
Smart CIOs know they can’t carry on as normal. Just because something was on the plan for 2020 doesn’t mean it should continue to be on it for 2021. Yes, strategic projects are still strategic, but it’s time to address whether the strategy has changed. If it has, the CIO has to know how to protect IT’s budget while shifting initiatives.
This is where the opportunity of a failed plan presents itself and where innovative CIOs can reset their priorities, align themselves with the rest of the organization, and ensure budget protection for 2021.
Revisit Your Organization’s Existing Strategic Plan
First, it’s important to understand what impact COVID-19 has had on your organization. This means more than just a workforce that is now working remotely. How did it impact the way your business operates and delivers value to customers? Did business models change? Did you add any new capabilities that are still contributing to ROI?
Now look at your existing IT strategic plan. Does it incorporate the changes made because of the impact of COVID-19?
It’s possible you could have some major changes to make to the IT strategic plan. For example, if your organization has added new revenue streams, then you may need to completely change the strategic plan to incorporate those new streams.
Look for Opportunities in your Value Streams
As you review what has changed in your organizations, you should also be identifying the opportunities for IT inside of this new strategy.
This exercise is best if you know the value streams in your organization (whether they are brand new as a result of COVID or they were already in place). If you don’t know the value streams of your organization, then now is the time to map them along with other members of the executive teams.
Remember, this is a chance for meaningful, impactful change. It’s no longer “business as usual.” We can’t say “Well this is the way it’s always been done” because organizations have proven they are capable of agility and making big changes quickly. When mapping value streams and looking for opportunities, don’t be afraid to open up to possibilities that might have seemed impossible a year ago. After all, most people would have said taking an organization completely remote in 48 hours would have been impossible this time last year but by now, most IT organizations have accomplished exactly that!
Fix any Value Leaks
Now, after you’ve reviewed value streams and are fired up about the new strategic projects you could bring to the organization in 2021, there’s a big question to answer: Where do you find the budget for it?
Some IT organizations were fortunate enough to have larger budgets this year while they enabled remote working — but those checkbooks won’t be as open in 2021.
Here’s what you can do right now to protect your budget in 2021
Look for the value leaks in your organization. Value leakage is a common problem in every organization but few leaders know to look for it. Businesses don’t operate on a consistent basis every single day. Value leaks can occur when changes in business workflows aren’t reflected in technology workflows, or people weren’t trained on new products or features, or when services or products aren’t retired appropriately. Value leaks occur due to poor communications, or when the organization fails to fully understand the costs and risks of any change, no matter how slight it may seem. If no one is monitoring value streams and measuring how value is delivered, then value will start getting dropped along the way.
In the context of protecting the budget for 2021, you can start finding and addressing the value leaks that are happening right now in 2020. When you start to fix the leaks, you can prove to the organization that you’re creating more value. The more value you bring to the table, the more you can justify your future budget and protect the budget for those bigger strategic projects you identify when mapping your value streams.
The Key is the Big Picture
The most important thing any CIO can do to seize the opportunity of failed plans is to not lose sight of the bigger picture. 2020 didn’t go to plan for anyone and every organization experienced shifts that will impact future strategies.
Your strategic projects from 2020 might still make sense in 2021. Or they might not. What’s important now is to look at how the organization delivers value to its customers and the opportunities for IT to enable and co-create that value. Then look at how IT can create even more value by fixing existing value leaks.
I think everyone will say that 2020 changed everything. But only the most innovative CIOs will be able to say that 2020 changed everything in the best way possible.Share