Given all the talk regarding enterprise resource planning, and all manner of sub-planning (disaster recovery, change management, business continuity, etc.), we often seem to forget that planning must be strategic.
Check a thesaurus. Something that is strategic is planned, tactical, calculated, deliberate, premeditated, considered, intentional…
Too often, business and IT plans become reactive. However, even strategic planning that starts out ahead of a curve, with foresight and collaboration, can suddenly be upended. More than ever it is important to not only build plans that anticipate and lead changes, but to also put an underlying foundation to plans; a readiness posture for the whole of the organization so business and IT collaborate and succeed on a fluid basis; an “ongoing strategization.” Organizations can no longer afford the occasional staggered lurch into the future – the surrounding environment presents challenge on a constant basis.
At the same time, regardless how leading and “tight” the planning seems, be certain that the process is flexible enough to adapt to any changes in circumstances. (In other words, be capable of handling change during change). There are always the unforeseen and outside uncontrollables. Resultant implementations of systems or policy will not always necessarily match the initial plan, and ability to efficiently adapt along the way is key. Delivering to the larger objective is still the goal and the ultimate measure of success, regardless of how much prior strategy gets usurped – just be certain it was truly unavoidable. (If you find all of your planning under a constant reality assault, you’d better get better planners into position.)
In supporting this, stakeholders, planners and implementers – key strategy personnel – must communicate willingly, aggressively, and with full exposure. Political impairments and battles must be swept away. In any cases where change is embedded in other change, things can become exponentially difficult quite quickly. Make certain to have meaningful milestones and measures along the way; when adjusting them, be as careful as you can be in making those adjustments.
Be certain that IT plans align with overall enterprise plans and expectations; ensure sanction and support – agreement – from all C-level executives, board members or other overseers. IT budget and plans must align and live within larger organizational budgets, resources and plans.
Also, be sure to balance near-term, medium and long-range deliverables. Hang your items not just on an IT timeline, but take those aforementioned organizational elements into account – budget, resource and (possibly competing) plans into account.
Get that thesaurus: Remain strategic.
By: David Scott is a CIO/Fortune 100 IT professional and author of I.T. Wars: Managing the Business-Technology Weave in the New Millennium which was selected as an MBA text at the University of Wisconsin. David is the sole-proprietor of BTW Consulting: Business writing, policies and plans. His comments have appeared in InfoWeek, Capitol Weekly (CA), and on the DC television show Communicating Today. You can connect with David on LinkedIn or on Twitter by following @davidscott999.