Landing your IT Strategy (Instead of Circling the Airport)

March 19th, 2019 Landing your IT Strategy (Instead of Circling the Airport)
Chris Williamson
National Practice Lead, CIO Advisory Services


One-dimensional assessments, stakeholder conflicts and risk avoidance keep technology initiatives from achieving timely value.

Like many business and technology folks, I spend a fair amount of time in airports. While a certain amount of waiting is necessary, no one really likes to spend much time in a holding pattern. And, the longer it goes, the more frustrated everyone gets. But eventually, you need to land, and the smoother the landing, the better.

Unfortunately, this situation is exactly what information technology and business leaders tell me happens to their new technology and transformation initiatives. After a quick take off, their efforts fail to arrive in a timely manner, suffering internal delays when decision making stakeholders can’t reach a consensus on the approach. Or, they have conflicting opinions on why one solution is preferable to another. This circling of the airport not only delays the execution of initiatives that could have an important impact on the organization’s short-term business strategy, but also breeds a sense of contention and mistrust amongst the decision makers.

While due caution is sensible in evaluating significant business change, many business leaders tell me their team members struggle to gather the right data, evaluate options and do the math surrounding a project proposal, in a reasonable time frame. Very often, they just don’t have sufficient time, or they lack the experience or skill set needed to take on a detailed evaluation. As a result, technologists are persuaded to engage a vendor to undertake a free assessment. Unfortunately, what comes back is not a broad evaluation of potential technology strategies and technical direction, but a lengthy marketing piece designed to convince the client of the merits of their particular solution and service offerings. I have yet to see a free assessment conclude with the guidance that a competitor’s solution is the best way to go.

So, how can organizations get their projects out of a holding pattern and on the ground? Several key factors can speed the landing:

  • Holistic Evaluation – Your strategic direction needs more than a single perspective and has to include a broad range of factors, including risk evaluation and the potential initiative’s impact on your organization. Evaluating factors like these align stakeholders and give them a sense of completeness, along with clarity as to what the selected direction will entail.
  • Like-to-Like Modeling – As much as possible, the directions you evaluate should be compared on an apples-to-apples basis, so the costs, tasks and risk are more readily comparable. Doing this creates visibility, and it fosters dialog around the similarities, as well as the differences of the options.
  • Stakeholder Engagement – Today’s change initiatives impact a wider range of stakeholders than ever before. From product owners to technology teams, and operations staff to your end user/customers, the needs and impact of change on these parties need to be accounted for, to arrive at a truly positive outcome.

The pace of business change continues at jet-speed, and while greater emphasis is being placed on the value of failing fast, many organizations would still prefer to arrive on time, and in one piece. This is especially true if most hazards can be avoided by simply satisfying the pre-flight checklist. A holistic, timely and unbiased evaluation can create stakeholder confidence and accelerate time-to-value.

If your organization needs help evaluating your technology direction, the team at Mainline can assist. Our Strategy Directional Analysis (SDA) approach, takes these factors and more into account and delivers a clear, data-driven direction through a concise, collaborative engagement. Our Advisory Consulting team has experience as IT leaders and architects who’ve walked the walk and understand the challenges our clients are facing.

For more detail, visit Mainline’s CIO Advisory web page to download our free white paper, “Overcoming Technology Gridlock: Moving Technology from Vision to Value.” And while you’re there, you can check out our full range of consulting services.

Please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly, or click here to contact us with any questions.

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