The first blog in this series identified the phenomenon of Anti-Strategy as well-intentioned decisions made by senior leaders that are functionally focused because of a lack of a clear business strategy. With digital and information technology (IT) getting firmly established as a strategic corporate asset for middle market companies, we turn our attention to the Anti-Strategy pitfalls in Information Technology, and how to inoculate the company against these pitfalls.
Risk Management and Disaster Recovery. The legacy approach to disaster recovery (DR) plans was a systems-centric approach, leaving companies exposed to the risk that the application remains up, but not the critical business function it supports. Our post on rethinking business continuity and disaster recovery addresses the need to engineer DR in alignment with business objectives and service levels.
Portfolio Management and Systems Rationalization. New systems are sometimes added to quickly address an emergency need. Mergers and acquisitions can cause IT assets to multiply. A desire for direct control over how effectively, and quickly your requirements are addressed, often promotes the implementation of new systems. The ensuing support costs and increased complexity can take away from the benefits these systems deliver. Everyone agrees that redundant systems must be retired, but are vehement that their system must stay. Clearly defined and communicated strategic objectives, and accompanying KPIs won’t eliminate the raw emotions that systems rationalization generates, but they will drive the dialog into objective, more productive channels.
Policy alignment. As an example, one of the companies we worked with, had an insidious dichotomy in how IT hardware was funded: The requesting business unit or development organization funded the initial capital purchase, while IT Operations’ expense budget funded any ongoing support of the equipment. On some occasions vendor discounts to introduce products eclipsed the magnified ongoing support costs for a one-off system. On others, IT Operations faced with another demand on an ever-shrinking expense budget, dismissed the competitive advantages delivered by a new product as another shiny object. The funding model in an attempt to mirror organizational responsibilities drove focus away from common strategic goals.
Service Management. In the absence of common objectives, other business units spawn off shadow IT to meet their needs. The trend of X-as a service, where X could be hardware, software, or any IT function or product is starting to drive alignment between IT and the business. The resulting focus on business/customer objectives mitigates concerns regarding IT responsiveness. As described in an earlier blog in this series, the key to success with strategic alignment is communication at all levels within the organization. Similarly, rigor in process, system, and discipline drive success in execution. We will take a closer look at the elements of effective IT Service Management in another blog.
As elsewhere in the business, the vectors that infect IT with the Anti-Strategy bug are well intentioned individuals working in the absence of a clearly defined and communicated strategy supported by consistent policies and processes. The same vaccine works for IT as well as for other business assets: a dose of well-defined strategic alignment fostered through communication and executed with diligent attention to people, process, and technology.
Group50 has designed a series of strategic assessments, workshops and strategic execution tools that eliminate the existence of Anti-Strategy. Our consultants have helped a variety of companies synchronize their IT organizations with the business, with marked gains in productivity and cost reduction. If you would like to learn more about how you can prevent anti-strategy from making inroads into IT, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or request more information here. You may also contact the head of our Digital Technology Practice, Shirish Néné at email@example.com, or call him at 703-201-3936.
About the Author: Shirish Néné is the head of Group50’s Digital Technology Practice. Shirish and the Group50 team are a cadre of veteran executives with a track record of melding people, process, and technology into game changing strategies and tactical advances across a wide range of industries, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. Our experience is reflected in a field-tested methodology and framework for establishing Digital Technology in its natural role of a strategic corporate asset. Our perspective from the trenches to the boardroom has instilled in us a respect for, and the ability to fit into a variety of corporate cultures. #group50, #digitaltechnology, #IT, #informationtechnology, #ITops,#Antistrategy, #ITstrategy, #businesstransformation
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