Practitioner Series on Making Strategy Execution a Reality | Part 1 of 3
IT Governance – the overall structure and daily management of activities and initiatives that help achieve corporate goals. The topic has somehow become a taboo subject to many organizations.
It’s much easier to discuss and theorize than apply. And for good reason. Digital transformation is disrupting every level of business while moving faster than we can institutionally implement, which presents a new, unknown set of decisions to make daily and leaves us vulnerable to the pitfalls of only dealing with fires.
Are you caught in a governance crossfire?
We have met plenty of IT leaders over the years who were caught in this governance “crossfire”. In one situation, a director tasked a client to deliver an entire portfolio that was 50% underfunded with only 5 months left in the budget year. “Just do everything,” he was told. The client estimated that he expended 30 minutes a day justifying amorphous delivery schedules with business stakeholders.
When it came to delivering projects, some of the IT leaders had full responsibility and accountability, but little authority to prioritize tasks. Conversely, the business side typically had authority but lacked responsibility for the outcome of the portfolio. Neither had visibility into the other’s data, nor were they aligned to understand each other’s obstacles, thus creating a breakdown in communication and feedback.
Left hand, time to meet right hand
Most organizations are structured vertically, creating hierarchical groupings of skills and expertise segmented by function. They then deploy processes, typically linked via information technology, to integrate these vertical structures horizontally.
It looks tidy on paper, but in my experience, the vertical walls tend to be much more rigid than the horizontal processes are fluid, resulting in silos that are a huge barrier to effective collaboration. In many cases, a culture can develop around this structure to reinforce these barriers. If a company requires a lot of time and effort to overcome them, the information sharing always suffers.
Create an effective IT governance process using Strategy Execution
Many of our clients ask us to help solve these problems with IT governance. As decision science experts with a SaaS solution, we assist by scaling and scoping their IT governance process, making it more repeatable, collaborative, data-driven, outcome-focused, and more aligned to strategic and business imperatives. We have evolved this set of best practices into a SaaS based Strategy Execution process.
“Strategy Execution” is a relatively new term that has been gaining traction within the IT market over the past few years. In short, it is a digital evolution of how organizations develop and implement IT governance. It is the modern practice of setting up an effective, organizational strategy to more efficiently identify, manage, and execute activities. Quite simply, Strategy Execution is the set of things an organization does to ensure that the “strategy” of the business gets “executed”.
Quite simply, Strategy Execution is the set of things an organization does to ensure that the “strategy” of the business gets “executed”.
What are the outputs of a successful Strategy Execution process?
With Strategy Execution, the key tenet is promoting engagement between executives, business stakeholders, and IT departments in a focused, efficient, and non-threatening way to apply their collective inputs directly to a few key outputs:
- the prioritization of outcomes and benefits sought from the portfolio
- the business, strategic operating, and security value of portfolio initiatives
- the types of investment trade-offs that are most acceptable given budget assumptions and constraints
- the dynamic allocation of resources to the most valuable activities
Making IT governance your friend can result in a resilient organization
For this process to be truly successful, the participating stakeholders in IT governance must be willing to accept the principle that not every initiative (and in many cases, not even most) merits funding in the upcoming cycle. Financial resources are scarce, human resources constrain the delivery schedule, and not every need serves a critical strategic, operating, or regulatory purpose.
Strategy Execution is a shared responsibility between the business and IT personnel. If IT leaders can engage end user stakeholders in an efficient, focused, rigorous process that hears all voices and melds the accountability, authority, and responsibility for IT portfolio investments, IT governance can be your friend. And it’s good to have friends that help get things accomplished.