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Three Steps to Improving Technology Strategy Outcomes and Business Performance

Business strategy, planning and technology strategy inherently belong together.  Unfortunately, many firms do so sequentially, or not at all, which makes the technologists’ job even more difficult and many businesses critical of their technology investments.  The effect on business performance is significant.

I recently read a series of steps firms can take to integrate these activities, leading not just to more effective strategy, but to increased success in delivering technology to support their desired direction.  These recommendations are fully in line with my view that unless communication between business and technologists is frequent, deep and open, then success will not occur, wasting time and money and maybe causing a business to being less competitive.

In January 2012, the CIO Dashboard from PwC’s Diamond Consulting Group made these few strong and memorable comments:

Integrate Technology into Strategic Planning:  “Top performing companies are more likely to integrate IT in their strategic planning process. Of the companies that are excelling, 86% said their CEO is an active champion in the use of information technology to achieve corporate strategy. That number drops to 56% for the remaining respondents. Moreover, the crème of the crop is more likely to have a CIO who not only reports directly to the CEO, but has strong relationships with other C-suite executives. In winning companies, the CIO is seen as a business champion.”

Set and Share a Single, Multi-Year Roadmap for the Overall Business Strategy:  “77% of top performers have a single, multi-year roadmap.  That number sinks to 54% among average performers.  Furthermore, sharing that strategy throughout the company is also critical to success.  76% of top performers say their strategy is well communicated throughout the company.  Only 44% of the rest make that claim.  Additionally, 78% of top performing companies say their business and IT leaders share an understanding of the strategy.”

Look Beyond Delivering IT Projects on Time and Budget:  “Setting a strategy leads to IT projects are that delivered on time and on budget, so it’s no surprise that superior corporations are meeting their goals more often than the others.  67% of top performers say their initiatives were delivered on time.  In stark contrast, only 38% of the rest of respondents hit the mark.  Coming in at or below budget proves to be far more difficult for both groups, but nonetheless, 54% of top performers did so compared to 35% of the larger group.  However, many organizations downplay the trade-offs in cutting scope and therefore potential business value in favor of bringing a project in under cost and time targets.  Almost 100% of top performers say that they frequently or always deliver their planned scope versus only 35% of all surveyed.”

Any firm which can direct its attention to these three steps is well on its way — as the percentages show — to integrating technology and strategy and creating the communication environment necessary to a strong relationship between its business and technology managers.  Moreover, the top performers receive the IT expected, which is directly related to achieving the targeted ROI.

Planning and openness — and process — lead to both successful projects and financial accomplishment.  A soft science of relationship and managerial process can now be readily translated into real world financial impact.