IT organizations often get stuck in a vicious cycle of never-ending work. IT implements solution after solution, fixes one problem after another, and no matter how many times they do it, those solutions and fixes never seem to stick. IT often finds itself just trying to keep up with what appears to be a constantly changing business. IT is often seen as the anchor slowing business down and has earned a reputation of being the slowest path toward technology implementation. And when budget times come around, IT never seems to manage to get its fair share.
These are signs that an IT organization is missing strategy. This is a massive problem for both IT and the organizations that IT works within. Why are so many IT organizations missing a strategy? What can be done to establish a viable IT strategy?
One thing that is certain – the strategy can’t just be “do”.
The Missing IT Strategy
Of course, no leader intentionally avoids developing strategy. It’s usually a consequence of a number of factors. However, in the case of the missing IT strategy, the CIO has to establish a business-technology (not technology alone) strategy, talk and share that strategy with other leaders, incorporate and underpin the larger business strategy, and drive the IT organization forward following that strategy. If a CIO spends too much of their time doing or supervising the day-to-day work within an IT organization instead of delegating, she won’t have the time (or energy) to be strategic. If a CIO has to spend more time supervising the daily activities of IT than ensuring business outcomes and value, that’s usually an indicator of a missing IT strategy.
The second indicator of a missing IT strategy is the lack of true service management. Why? Because if the service management foundation is not strong or well executed, IT can never be strategic. If IT ignores:
- Defining services in terms of business value and outcomes
- Creating workflows that are based on services, not technologies or organization charts
- Publishing performance reports that are relevant to and meaningful for the business
then IT is setting itself up for failure. Many organizations look at service management as just something that a service desk does. But good service management provides the capability of relating technology investments to business outcomes. This makes good service management a critical part of the foundation of IT. Having a solid foundation is what keeps IT relevant, reliable, and able to scale to meet business needs. WIthout good service management, IT will waste a lot of time just trying to keep up with service requests and putting out fires instead of enabling the realization of business strategy.
Finally, the third indicator of a missing IT strategy is a “one thing at a time” mentality. To stay on track, IT organizations often choose to focus on just one initiative at a time. This might help your team feel less overwhelmed, but it often comes with the cost of missing a holistic view of the organization. The ability to see the birds eye view of how the organization relies on technology to create better outcomes for end users and customers is one of the most important skills for an IT leader. Having this big picture view enables the IT leader to be even more strategic.
Why does IT need a strategy?
IT operating as only a support team is no longer an option for any business. The speed of business has increased significantly over the last decade, due in a large part to the introduction of new technologies, such as automation, mobile computing, cloud-based services and machine learning. IT has to be the driver and enabler of technology. Whether it’s realized or not, technology has become “baked into” every aspect of the organization.
The question is “has IT become ‘baked in’ as well?” Without a well-defined IT strategy, the answer to this question is usually “no”.
Defining, socializing, and executing a strategy strengthens IT’s role within an organization. It’s what separates the IT organizations that are treated as order takers from the IT organizations that are treated as valued partners.
How to solve the case of the missing IT strategy
Here are three things that IT leaders can do to solve the case of the missing IT strategy.
What is the business strategy? How can technology enable realization of business strategy? To shift from a “support only” team to a strategic asset, IT first has to understand the goals and objectives of the overall organization – and how technology can be used to enable realization of those goals and objectives. IT’s strategy must be tied to these business goals and objectives. IT leaders have to take a step back from the inner workings, day-to-day activities of IT and look at the bigger picture of the organization.
Elevate to real service management, not just some arbitrarily selected processes. Once IT understands the role of technology in achieving business strategy, IT must then elevate its approach to service management. Service management is more than just fulfilling requests and resolving outages. An effective approach for elevating service management is to identify and map the value streams of an organization, then identifying how technology underpins those value streams. Value streams help identify the products and services that IT must deliver. This exercise not only lays out what service management must enable and deliver for the organization, it is also a great way to align what IT is doing to the overall needs of the business.
Report IT performance in business terms. Once you’ve elevated your service management and understand the goals and objectives of the company, then you’ll be able to produce and publish performance reports that reflect how IT contributions enabled achievement of business goals and objectives. Having this capability is significant for a number of reasons. First, it demonstrates that IT truly understands what is important to the organization. Secondly, it provides the ability to evaluate if IT strategy is meeting business needs. And lastly, it begins to change the perception of IT as just being a “support team” to a strategic asset.
Thinking and working strategically is transformative for an IT organization. After you’ve seen how IT integrates with the rest of the organization, you won’t be able to go back to working only in a ‘support’ role. By defining and executing an IT strategy , your entire business will become stronger.
Need help developing an IT strategy that is aligned with your business objectives? Let Tedder Consulting help! Tedder Consulting will first visit your organization to understand your business, goals, and current IT situation. Tedder Consulting will then conduct an analysis of your IT services and practices to determine how they are operating. Finally, we deliver a plan for aligning your technology strategy to your business goals. For more information, contact Tedder Consulting today.Share