In order to implement IT strategy, it is necessary to rethink some roles in IT. For example, it's necessary to have IT staff who are aligned with the divisions of the company. It also means hiring people who are lifelong learners and willing to investigate new trends, as well as identifying ways in which some of them apply to strategic imperatives.
- You've devised, prioritized, and funded a portfolio of projects that will form the means by which you implement your IT strategy. Can you as an IT leader put the department on autopilot as the portfolio's enacted? Farm from it. There are several roles that need to be instituted in order to ensure that the portfolio's completed effectively, and it's necessary to continue to troll the landscape for new ideas as the portfolio should never be static. Who's responsible for what? First, let's talk about ideation, or the development of new ideas. Ideas can come from anyone on the team.
Many leadership teams mistakenly operate under the assumption that ideas are the domain of the senior team alone. Junior team members often have the best perspectives on the pain points of employees or even of customers. Tap them for ideas. You should also have a couple of sets of people who proactively develop new ideas. One I particularly like might be referred to as the business information officer, or BIO in large organizations or as a business relationship manager in smaller ones. In either case, there should be an IT leader who is embedded in another division of the company.
They should be trained in IT and the disciplines of the other division, like marketing, finance, or sales, for example. They should be present when the strategies for those divisions are created and counsel those divisions on the art of the possible using technology. Likewise, more IT departments are employing innovations labs or at least innovation teams, who are also tasked with investigating and testing new ideas that may have commercial relevance multiple years out. Like an R and D division, they're tasked with investigating a number of ideas knowing that many if not most will not be viable, but hoping and expecting that some will become great sources of value to the company and its customers.
As new ideas emerge mid-year, a strong program management office, or PMO, is an important function to help reprioritize and manage the portfolio. There's no reason why new projects can't be added to the IT portfolio throughout the year, but the PMO should continue to employ objective criteria, such as strategic linkage, cost benefit analysis, project interdependency, and risk among others, to provide a realistic picture as to the ranking of any new project. This will help avoid scenarios where a powerful and loud executive constantly pushes IT readers to reshuffle priorities.
This scenario may still persist, but at least there will be a counterargument based on objective criteria. The project manager is also an essential role to effectively deliver projects. As the makeup of project teams become more diverse, including employees and contractors, and as those teams can be spread across the world, strong project management is an essential element to ensure the projects are implemented effectively. Some project managers view their jobs as little more than checking boxes to validate progress made. True project managers get into the deep details of the project, weigh pros and cons of different paths, think through risks and what-if scenarios, and keep their teams motivated and on task.
If you've not already done so, consider sending your teams to get project management institute, or PMI certification, to ensure that they have an adequate fluency in the development of projects as well. Projects breathe life into strategic plans. Getting them right and delivering them well is essential.
- Reasons to develop IT strategy
- Defining an IT strategy
- Structuring an IT strategy
- Communicating strategy details
- Implementing an IT strategy
- Measuring the success of the strategy
- Prioritizing and reprioritizing IT projects