Whats happening with the newsletter/course?

its been a while...

It has been a while since the last Newsletter so I thought i’d provide an update on whats happening with the Newsletter, Podcast and the How to IT Strategy course.

Well, at the moment, not much. I’m taking a break from the newsletter, podcast and developing the course for a few months. After trying to juggle work, newsletter, podcast, course development with also trying to study (i’m working towards a Coaching qualification) and trying to have a personal life, I realised something had to give, I wasn’t doing justice to any of them or making enough progress and that was making me feel poo. So, a few months ago i made a decision, for the next few months I’m going to be focusing on my studies, once I am happy with the progress I’m making I will then definitely return to the newsletter, podcast and course, but importantly I’ll return better, for Two reasons

1) I’ll have more time to focus on them and therefore they’ll be better

2) I’ll be able to apply some of what i’ve learnt in my coaching studies and practice to the newsletter, podcast and course, so they’ll be better

Thanks for bearing with me, think of this newsletter as a marker for the end of ‘season 1’ and a reminder that ‘season 2’ will be back before you know it and be better than ever!

Thanks

Richard

IT Strategy Themes

Why it is important to clearly identify and communicate the strategic themes of your IT strategy

In this newsletter we’ll briefly discuss why it is extremely useful to narrow down your IT Strategy down to a small number of key themes.

Complexity (in the simplest usage of the word) breeds complexity, complex businesses with complex operating models, rules and systems often breed complex IT systems and organisations. When we undertake discovery and analysis to start developing an IT Strategy that complexity can often feel overpowering, ‘how am i going to address all of these issues?’, ‘how am i going to explain my strategy to myself let alone my stakeholders?’

The best way I have found of dealing with this is to start really early on in the strategy development process to start making note of key recurring themes that fall out of your Discovery and Analysis. This isn’t about simplifying your strategy, or ignoring the reality of the complexities of your business or IT, it is about helping reinforce for yourself what is important to then be able to start replaying the key themes to your stakeholders.

Identifying the key themes isn’t rocket science, it’s just dependent on you listening effectively to your stakeholders, reflecting on what you’ve learnt and then synthesizing information from multiple sources into your key themes. Say for example, during your Discovery you keep hearing complaints about the inaccessibility and poor quality of data and insight within your organisation, that is impacting the companies ability to compete or when you question senior stakeholders about their goals and targets they are unable to quantify KPIs or progress, then these might be good clues that a key theme for your strategy might be around Data. Some key things i’ve found useful to bear in mind:

  1. Start identifying your key themes early, like as soon as you start talking to stakeholders during Discovery

  2. Take early opportunities to test out what you think are the emerging strategic themes with your colleagues and stakeholders

  3. Don’t fall in love with your themes to early, hold them loosely and be prepared to let them go if your Discovery, Analysis, stakeholder feedback or other influence informs your thinking in a new direction

  4. Think about your themes as components in a compelling, internally consistent and mutually supportive narrative that of the impact your Strategy will have on the organisation’s customers and people

Course, Newsletter and Podcast

In my upcoming How to IT Strategy Course we will go into more detail about how you can create a great IT Strategy. You can sign up here for early access to the course when it launches and an early bird discount.

You can subscribe to this Newsletter so you don’t miss out on the next instalments. If audio is more your thing you can get the companion ‘How to IT Strategy Podcast on AnchorSpotify , Apple Podcasts and all major Podcast Platforms.

IT Strategy KPIs

What to measure?

In this newsletter we’ll talk about Strategic IT KPIs, why they are important and what type of Strategic KPIs are now important for a modern IT team.

In my upcoming How to IT Strategy Course, we’ll go into more detail around Strategic IT KPIs and their role in helping create and measure the success of your IT Strategy. You can sign up for early access and an early bird discount (when the course launches) at howtoitstrategy.com

Why?

Strategic IT KPIs need to speak to the significant transformative impact that IT Strategy and team are having on the business.


Tip

It is really important to focus on what you want to measure first and not immediately start limiting your thinking on what you need to measure with thoughts of how you are going to measure. Only once you are happy with what you need to measure should you start to think about the how.


It is absolutely worthwhile to be thinking about what those Strategic IT KPIs are when you are creating your IT Strategy, its the perfect time to be able to say, this is where we are heading and this is how we are going to know that we are heading in the right direction so you can course correct your strategic execution and demonstrate progress.

What KPIs?

There are a number of different metrics that an IT Leader should be measuring, monitoring and managing, i believe and have found it useful in practice, to limit Strategic IT KPIs to a small number. focusing on a small number is also a good exercise for questioning and reinforcing if you are clear enough on your IT Mission and Vision.

In my experience there are 4 key categories of Strategic IT KPIs that should be considered when thinking about your Strategic IT KPIs. The actual specific type of KPI within these categories might be different depending on the context of your business.

1) Customer Satisfaction

An important factor that influences your ability to successfully execute your IT Strategy is your IT team’s reputation and standing in the business. Measuring the level of customer satisfaction is a key temperature check on how your customers feel IT are doing. Depending on your organisation’s context this could be about just gauging your colleagues as internal customers, or even your actual customers e.g. through NPS. Regardless of how you choose to measure this, understanding the impact IT is making on your customers is essential.

2) ROI

A modern IT team has to be able to demonstrate the tangible value it is delivering to the business. Focusing on ROI rather than cost is an important step in recognising the necessary move of IT from old-school cost base to strategic enabler.

3) Time to Value

Delivering change is a key value stream for IT. You absolutely need to be able to measure and improve on your ability to help the business go from idea to delivered value.

4) Compliance

This category of KPI is one that will very much depend on the nature of your business and exactly what type of compliance responsibilities are within the remit of IT e.g. GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO27001, etc etc. Regardless of the specifics you must be able to measure, monitor and improve your IT compliance.

In this newsletter we’ve briefly discussed why IT KPIs are important and some key categories of strategic IT KPIs. In my upcoming How to IT Strategy Course we will go into more detail about how to ensure you create a great IT Strategy. You can sign up here for early access to the course when it launches and an early bird discount.

You can subscribe to this Newsletter so you don’t miss out on the next instalments. If audio is more your thing you can get the companion ‘How to IT Strategy Podcast on AnchorSpotify , Apple Podcasts and all good Podcast Platforms.

Strategy drives Strategy drives Strategy

Navigating the relationships between Business and IT Strategy

It feels like an accepted truism that an organisation’s IT Strategy should absolutely be informed by, aligned to and help enable and deliver the organisation’s Business Strategy. This assumption is of course based on a much bigger and problematic assumption, that a clearly defined, rational, original, coherent, communicated and understood Business Strategy exists. In my experience this clearly defined, rational, original, coherent, communicated and understood thing, that we place so much weight and responsibility upon to inform and guide our other strategies (whether its IT, People, Digital, whatever), normally only partially (as in it might be communicated, understood and coherent, but it might not be rational or original, or some other combination of those attributes) or implicitly exists. What will often exist is a set of organisational memes, catchphrases, myths and stories that masquerade as an implicit strategy within the organisation.

So, what if you are working in an organisation, wanting to create or refresh an IT Strategy, but you find one of the foundational building blocks upon which your IT Strategy needs to rest is either wholly or partially missing?

You have to fill in the blanks. Why?

  • No-one else is going to do it for you

  • You have a specific and timely need, you have to satisfy yourself and your stakeholders that the IT Strategy you are producing is ‘correct’

  • Going through the exercise of attempting to nail down your understanding of the Business Strategy and making the implicit explicit gives an opportunity for your stakeholders to say “no that’s not right” and verbalise and clarify their understanding of the Business Strategy

I’m not saying you have to create the organisation’s Business Strategy for them and i’m certainly not saying you might be best placed or best equipped to do so, but you have to at least create a visible straw-person of what you believe the Business Strategy is to act as a structure around which you can create your IT Strategy. By doing this you can show traceability of the reasoning behind your strategic IT decisions and provoke clarification and (hopefully) clarity from your stakeholders in areas where your straw-person may not be accurate.

In previous Newsletters we’ve touched on a few different techniques you can use to help develop the your straw-person. In my upcoming How to IT Strategy Course we will go into more detail about how to ensure you create a great IT Strategy. You can sign up here for early access to the course when it launches and an early bird discount.

You can subscribe to this Newsletter so you don’t miss out on the next instalments. If audio is more your thing you can get the companion ‘How to IT Strategy Podcast on AnchorSpotify , Apple Podcasts and all good Podcast Platforms.

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