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IT strategy should work hand-in-hand with business strategy, expert says

12 May 2017

Organisations continue to face challenges aligning IT with business strategy due to insufficient planning, lack of focus on business outcomes, and cost of IT resources, according to business performance specialists State of Matter.

“IT delivery is failing because it’s not meeting key success criteria,” State of Matter advisory and project delivery services director Grant Barker says.

“In our experience, many projects fail to deliver on expectations, are over budget, and run over time."

This leads to wasted time and resources, and can put businesses behind their competitors when it comes to transformation projects, says Barker.

“Delivery of new IT capability is one of the primary vehicles for organisations to bring innovation to market: failure in this area is a failure to innovate.”

Barker says these issues can be overcome with strategic planning, and a clear understanding of and focus on business outcomes.

“However, many organisations fail to do mid or long-term planning. They get stuck in a firefighting mentality, which leaves little time to set a clear company direction and implementing the training and tools required for strategic thinking,” he says.

According to State of Matter, the majority of plans are technology-centric, which means they’re not taking their cue from business objectives.

When the business users aren’t involved sufficiently in planning and there is a lack of focus on business outcomes, the resulting IT solution is unlikely to solve significant challenges and is likely to be considered a failure.

State of Matter has identified four key success criteria that businesses must meet:

Focus

Organisations need to create measurable objectives, which are imperative for effective business analysis.

The objectives must map to overall business goals to deliver business value.

Utilisation of agile methods and principles is a strong enabler for this.

Execution

The project must include realistic schedules and proactive risk management. It should include consistent processes and

The project must include realistic schedules and proactive risk management. It should include consistent processes and methods, while being adaptable as required.

The execution phase is crucial for project success and requires careful and strategic management.

Content

The plan itself relies on stability of requirements to avoid extra, out-of-scope work that costs more and takes longer.

If changes are needed, they should be considered in light of strong change control policies.

The plan should also minimise technical complexity and prepare the organisation for future technologies now, to avoid additional costs later.

As with the first point, organisations that adopt agile principle and approaches are more likely to be successful at this.

Skills

Engaging teams with requisite experience, training, and skills maximises the project’s chances of success.

This includes a mix of technical and project management skills.

 “Many organisations struggle to maintain a strong, collaborative relationship between their business and IT functions and as such, the incredible value able to be released through the convergence of business and IT isn’t being achieved,” Barker says.

“Creating an IT-enabled business strategy is worth the effort,”

“Converging business and IT strategies leads organisations to perform better, increasing revenues, gaining a competitive advantage, morphing business models and having more fun doing it,” he adds. 

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