How can IT ensure that their projects are properly understood and aligned within the overall business?
As a strategic partner with a purpose of supporting business outcomes it is imperative that IT understands where the business is going and aligns its strategy and hence initiatives to support business outcomes.
Too often IT believes they are undertaking initiatives to benefit the business only to find the initiatives don’t deliver or aren’t aligned to the business strategy. Some of the reasons this happens are:
- The business strategy hasn’t been translated into IT usage and capabilities
- IT haven’t understood the real business drivers
- The business has moved on – outcomes of initiative are no longer relevant
- The initiative was done in isolation within IT and imposed on the business without consultation and hence there is limited or no buy in from the business
This leads to some fairly vital questions that IT need to resolve to ensure that their programs align tightly with business strategy, such as:
- How can IT ensure that they understand the business strategy?
- How can they develop a model and roadmap that enables all stakeholders (including the business) to easily understand – and agree – on projects that are aligned to the company strategy?
Architecture principals + capability modelling = alignment
Quay has found that one way of achieving both the understanding and the model and roadmap is to use Architecture principles combined with Capability Modelling to align business strategy and IT delivery.
Mapping out business operations as a functional view (i.e. the what, not the how), via capability modelling, produces a clear one-page diagram of the business functions and how IT support each function through, applications, information, infrastructure and people.
Once produced this enables the business and IT to see where gaps and duplications exist when planning for the future and provides a roadmap for projects and portfolios of work. CIOs can then have informed discussions with the business and IT teams alike using an easily understood model as the centrepiece for decision making.
How it works
IT Architecture and IT Organisational Capability is influenced by the Business and conversely how it supports then business. When these functions are is not aligned then business outcomes cannot be achieved. This knowledge combined with the six-step approach we have provided delivers a significant step towards alignment between the Company Strategy and IT.
Six Steps to Alignment
1. Develop and agree a ‘current state’ Business Capability Model
This ensures that the business strategy has been articulated to a level that is translatable to IT usage and capabilities of the business are agreed and understood by IT.
2. Develop a target state Application, Information & Infrastructure Architecture based on the business Capability Model
Takes a current and future snapshot of Technology and Organisation footprints and ensure the future state fully supports the business and IT strategy. Typically included in this is:
- Current State summary
- Future State Capability Model
- Target State Architecture across applications, information and infrastructure
3. Deliver a target IT Organisational Structure and functional role requirements
Outlines the most effective structure to support the business and considers strategies such as outsourcing, cloud etc. Also, what are the functions and roles needed to support the business and what are the gaps? These typically include:
- Target IT Organisational Chart
- Functional Roles and responsibilities
- IT Organisational Capability Model
- Outline of Gaps
4. Create an IT Strategy that includes the target application, information & infrastructure architectures and organisational structure
An IT Strategy provides a coherent and holistic approach to supporting the business strategy for all IT investments and changes and typically includes:
- IT Strategy Principles
- Definitions of how IT will support the business
- How IT will support business agility
- Articulates how IT is aligned to the business
- Implication of the Business Strategy on IT
- Pain Points
5. Build a roadmap for change
Provides clearly articulated stages to get to the future state as a sequence of activities that will generate value to the businesses processes. Typically includes:
- A dimensioned roadmap of projects to move to future state
- Reference Architecture
- Criteria for roadmap decisions
- Guiding principles
6. Plan out a program of works
Provides the guidance and governance for a portfolio of works that deliver the determined work packages aligned to the business strategy. Typically Includes:
- Portfolio of dimensioned projects
- Defined criteria against time, costs, complexity, business benefit etc
Utilising the six-step approach, IT can ensure that they understand how their projects and programs will work within the context of the overall business strategy. Secondly, they have the capacity to articulate, frame and build a roadmap that ensures that projects are aligned from the outset and remain aligned throughout the implementation phase.
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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