The objective of IT Strategy is to:
- Develop a vision on IT. An vision on IT should provide a clear direction for taking decisions that are on the agenda in the next years (in particular decisions about investments in IT);
- Identify which changes are needed in business processes, systems and organization;
- Define which strategic projects are needed to support the business strategy adequately (e.g. to phase out current systems and to replace them with a new system).
- Define priorities for strategic projects and to decide in which year each project can best be done: year 1, year 2, or year 3+.
- Specify an initial document for each strategic project that describes the objectives of the project, the main activities, the deliverables, and the business case of the project.
The time-line shows the phases of an IT Strategy project. The total duration is twelve weeks. Each phase is briefly explained below.
In this phase the planning is agreed in detail with the project sponsor. The project sponsor is the person who is accountable for the IT Strategy project within the client organization, and the status of the project will be discussed with the sponsor at the end of each phase. One of the important decisions to take during the preparation phase is the selection of the participants during the kick-off meeting and subsequent meetings and workshops. These participants will have a large input in the IT Strategic plan by way of interviews and by participating in workshops. Therefore it is important that there is enough diversity in the selection of participants, for example: both formal and informal leaders, various relevant stakeholders, people who can be a (constructive) “devil’s advocate”, etcetera. This is important for the quality of the plan and for the support in the organization that is needed for a smooth implementation.
The objective of the (mandatory) meeting is to make sure that the expectations among all participants are clear the objectives of the IT Strategic plan, the approach and way of working and the deliverables. After the kick-off meeting the participants will have common and realistic expectations and will be able to prepare for the interviews and workshops. The results of the Kick-off meeting will be communicated to the client organization.
In this phase the requirements, issues, necessary improvements and other relevant factors are described in order to analyze which changes are needed. The following subjects will be dealt with among other things: review of business strategy, analysis of trends and factors outside the organization (e.g. what are competitors and best-in-class parties doing with IT), business processes, applications, databases, infrastructure, technological trends, organization, ongoing projects. Information about these subjects will be obtained through interviews and available documentation.
During this ½ day meeting all participants will get a recap of all interviews and documentation and the initial findings and conclusions will be discussed. The aim of the workshop is to validate if the As-Is analysis is a correct and complete view of the current situation and the changes that are needed. By discussint this the participants will make a start with exploring the options for solutions. The results of workshop-1 will be communicated to the client organization.
Design of To-Be situation
In this phase the options for solutions will be explored in more detail and pros and cons will be analyzed. The best options will be extended into a high-level design of the To-Be situation in terms of business processes, applications, databases, infrastructure, and organization of IT. Where needed several scenarios and options will be compared. Next the difference between As-Is and To-Be will be defined in terms of a list of strategic projects that are needed to realize the To-Be situation. For each strategic project an initial document is written with a description of objectives, main activities and deliverables. In addition a high-level business case is developed with initial estimates of costs, financial and non-financial benefits. Finally the sequence of the projects and the timeline is defined based on the business case, risks and dependencies and other constraints (e.g. laws & regulations).
During the second workshop the participants discuss the options and scenarios for the To-Be situation. An assessment is made of these options in terms of quality, costs and feasibility. The list of strategic projects and the timeline will also be discussed.
In this last phase the conclusions and recommendations will be summarized in a final report to the sponsor.
The sponsor will submit the IT Strategic plan to the top management of the client organization for formal approval. When approved the IT Strategic plan will be communicated to the organization, and that will be the last deliverable of the IT Strategy project.
The realization of the IT Strategic plan is outside the scope of the IT Strategy assignment. The realization will be in the scope of Programme Management and of project management for each project. See the separate description of the approach for Programme Management.
The deliverables of the Kick-off meeting and the workshops 1 and 2 will be in a presentation format (slides). The final report is a text document with the content below:
Background and objectives
Scope (processes, geography, organization units, user groups)
2 Review and summary of business strategy and organization
3 As-Is analysis and required improvements
- Organization structure
- Business processes
- Technological trends and developments
- Current Projects
- IT Organization
- IT Costs
4 To-Be situation
- Business processes
- IT organization
5 Strategic IT projects
Costs and Benefits
Depending on size and complexity of the client organization the number of days may be different from this estimate. The time for interviews can be less if the client organization is able to do interviews themselves and to collect all the required documents.
The benefits of an strategic IT plan are the following:
It is a means for (top) management to have effective control over IT
The plan provides for a clear prioritization of strategic projects, based on the business case of each project. This will optimize the Return on Investment of IT expenditures.
The plan is a tangible way to show the added value of IT for the business
The plan reduces the risks of failure of IT projects. Without the strategic plan there would be a significant risk that the quality, feasibility and business case of projects have not been analyzed sufficiently.