IT4B and the dynamics of strategy

In the final post about their IT for Business model, Brian Johnson and Walter Zondervan, authors of IT4B, explore the development and implementation of an information services (IS) strategy.

 

An enterprise-wide information services (IS) strategy comprises information, business information services and most of the technology elements of the organisation. It sets metrics to demonstrate achievement. In terms of governance, imperatives, constraints and policies will be set and require compliance. Read our recent posts to find out more about governance and the IT4B model.

Diagram of the IT4B operating model highlighting strategy capabilities

Figure 1: IT4B strategy capabilities

 

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Strategy formulation involves senior management, the project management team and the wider enterprise – business managers, customers and others with a stake in the successful outcome of the strategy, including service partners. The interests and concerns of the wider enterprise will be addressed through focus groups, interviews and awareness briefings.

The roles and responsibilities of senior management and the project management team are described below.

Senior management

The team needs to be led by business-oriented managers who can ensure that strategic emphasis is retained and continuity of the thinking process is maintained.

The following roles must be clearly identified:

  • The senior responsible owner (SRO) – a ‘champion’ for the strategy.
  • Beneficiaries – those who will gain from the strategy’s implementation.
  • Deliverers – those who deliver the benefits from business improvement programmes.

Management’s main concerns in relation to the strategy study are:

  • Ensuring that the evolving information services strategy is directly harnessed to business and policy objectives and priorities, data and information needs, and innovative technologies;
  • Reviewing and approving the progress and continuation of the study; and
  • Approving the formal deliverables.

Project management

Essential project management roles and responsibilities are:

  • The investment decision maker (IDM) – takes the investment decision based on affordability and cost justification;
  • The SRO or project owner (PO) – defines the scope and content of the project. The SRO must be a senior individual who is personally accountable for the project’s success, and has the status and authority to provide the necessary leadership. They must have clear accountability for delivering the project outcome;
  • Project sponsor/project director – provides ongoing management on behalf of the project owner to ensure that the desired project objectives are delivered. They must have adequate knowledge and information about the business and the project to be able to make informed decisions;
  • Project manager – leads, manages and coordinates the project team on a day-to-day basis; and
  • Project team – delivers the required outputs or deliverables.

 

STRATEGIES AND THE STAGES OF STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT

Crafting a strategy means clarifying, creating and refining the strategic vision, issues and themes, and programmes and/or projects. The strategic vision expresses the intended future for the enterprise, its desired position in relation to its partner and supply chain ecosystem (sourcing and sponsoring), and the outcomes it wishes to bring about.

The strategic vision can be seen as a blueprint for improvement. It should be fundamentally focused on outcomes. Government examples include a healthier population, improved access to education, a reduction in crime or a reduction in the cost of public administration. Information services will be essential to each of these: in the collection and distribution of healthcare information (which will be subject to privacy regulations), in the creation of accessible websites and distribution of information, and in the collection of financial data for action. Such issues are described in IT4B as objectives and requirements. The aim of the IT4B model is not to reinvent IT but to place crucial and sometimes complex elements in a context that enables understanding, recognition, rapid navigation and assessment.

Although IT4B is not directly concerned with internal changes that focus on how the enterprise wishes to be constituted – such as any internal restructuring, infrastructure renewal or even change of culture – it must be influential in ensuring that such changes reflect the need to manage information with integrity and in line with governance.

 

STRATEGIC ISSUES

All enterprises differ in terms of the issues to which they must respond; there is no ‘one size fits all’. The range of issues will depend on individual circumstances, although many enterprises will identify common elements. Generally speaking, there are four categories of issues:

  1. Business: How the enterprise interacts with its customers, information chain partners, and its suppliers and supply chains, how it provides its digital services, and how it improves efficiency or revenue by meeting rising customer/citizen expectations.
  2. Political: Decision-making, hierarchies, policy issues, rationalisation of services.
  3. Cultural: Values, attitudes, competencies and relationships, such as the need to change the behaviour of staff and customers in order to work in new ways.
  4. Technical: IT, business information management and communication concerns, e.g. requirements for improved security on information provided and shared electronically, digital delivery, Cloud, common standards for information exchange and interoperation.

A critical success factor for a strategy is being able to demonstrate that a key issue has been addressed in a way that is clear and can be measured. Opportunities and risks functions (or those charged with assessing opportunity and risk) will be responsible for identifying many of these factors.

 

SOURCING AND SPONSORING

Sourcing and sponsoring is all about establishing digital readiness. Will we achieve our objectives with the components and people that the enterprise already has? If we cannot, this is a measure of digital (un)readiness. We must then ask:

  • What do we have to do to make that right?
  • What will we have to make, buy or ally with in regard to missing components?
  • Will we have to develop the required skills and competences?
  • Do we partner with external professionals?

The role of sourcing and sponsoring is to define a sourcing strategy and to provide sponsorship and commissioning for the proposed improvement (business, information, applications and services, and technology). Policy and compliance validates the proposed improvement, and contracts and agreements ensures both internal and external commitment.

The IT4B digital profile is a starting point of communications for planning and sourcing activities. The activities, outputs, outcomes and benefits should be communicated across the enterprise.

 

Brian Johnson and Walter Zondervan are the creators of the IT4B model. Learn more about the  model and how it can help you to develop and implement strategy in your organisation. IT4B will be published in June 2018. Pre-order your copy today and get 15% off by entering discount code ‘IT4Bdiscount’ at the checkout.

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