How can IT show genuine leadership and value when delivering technology that supports the business?
Technology is one of the key enablers of any business and when it is aligned with the core business – regardless of sector – it is a significant competitive advantage.
Technology enables scalability, agility and constant availability, however when it is not aligned or not delivered as required, its value becomes diminished and can reduce the capability of a business to be successful.
In the absence of an aligned roadmap to the business, providers and supporters of technology risk being regarded as a hindrance rather than a strategic enabler, increasing the likelihood that the business may consider outsourcing IT. The growth of cloud-based services is a tantalising carrot for businesses that see misalignment between its core business and IT delivery.
So how can IT show genuine leadership and value to their organisation when delivering technology that supports and runs the business?
We’ve outlined below a quick guide to successfully engaging and understanding the business to build an aligned, valued technology strategy.
Understand the business
At the highest level, IT needs to understand what the purpose of the business is, as well as the core business. Why is the organisation in business, where is it going and who does it serve?
Understanding and documenting IT’s understanding of these fundamentals may require a review of the business’s strategy, engaging in dialogue with users within the organisation and developing a robust understanding of the end user’s needs. IT must understand the critical business functions required to support delivery of the core business.
Exercises that can facilitate and quantify this level of understanding include:
- Business capability modelling
- High-level business process mapping
- Pain points analysis
- Defining what success looks like for the business in 12-24 months’ time.
The purpose of these exercises is to develop a documented understanding of the business, where it is going and assessing its current and future technology needs.
Translate business understanding into IT understanding
It often becomes apparent from these types of exercises that not only is technology not supporting the business but also that the culture between business and IT is not aligned.
Analyse the gaps in applications, information infrastructure, leadership and organisational structure to see where technology supports and fails in the business.
With a documented understanding of business and end customer needs, IT has the opportunity to develop a better perspective on how business capability and processes influence technology and the departments that deliver and support it.
Develop a ‘future state’
Once the gaps from technology and culture are understood then the future IT and technology state can be defined. This enables a clear demarcation between the current and future technology needs alongside the level of service and support required by IT to be of value and beneficial to the business.
Aligning application, information and infrastructure states with future organisational structure(s) and capability requirements support and enable the business is a formula for success.
The roadmap for change
A technology roadmap is essential to ensure that short-term and long-term goals are articulated in clear stages that show how the business will get to the ideal future state, mapped out as a sequence of activities that generate value to the business. The entire organisation should be represented in the construction of the roadmap to ensure that programs of activities are aligned with business needs and priorities.
Program of works
Guidance and governance should be established around programs of work to deliver packages within each program. This program of works should consist of a list of dimensioned projects from within the roadmap, referencing defined criteria such as:
- Business benefit
- Risks & issues
- Other relevant attributes
The roadmap and the program of works should be living breathing documents that are reassessed regularly to ensure relevance and continued benefit.
Drive genuine value though engagement and alignment
IT can drive genuine value when it understands and defines what the real value of a product and service is to the business (end customer).
Building an aligned roadmap is most effective when the end customers are part of the process, because it allows IT to ensure that delivery and support of technology is aligned to the current and future needs of the organisation; to deliver key business enabling technology tools; and remain a strategic enabler rather than a hindrance to business success.
As project specialists, we develop fit-for-purpose strategy. Contact us here to find out more about how we work with your teams or call 02 9098 6300.
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