I was talking to a friend who works in a large private sector organisation recently and he was moaning about how he couldn't get anyone to implement his IT Strategy. I asked him what the problem was. He said “...I have a vision for IT in the company that will add great value” after which he started to tell me about how the strategy would but in a flexible and agile framework to allow the creation of new business opportunities better, smarter and faster.
“It all sounds good” I said “So how are you looking at putting this IT Strategy in place?”
He replied “Well we have written the IT Strategy and what the vision looks like now I just need people to invest in it and deliver it. But they don't seem to be interested”
“What business benefits are you delivering as you start to put the IT Strategy in place?”, I asked.
“Oh those come when we have but the IT Strategy in place” he replied
“Hmm”, I said. “So you want people to invest in some IT that could give them benefits in the future? A platform for the future?”
“Exactly” he replied confidently.
“Well as you are not an IT company such as Microsoft or Apple it may be difficult to invest in IT for the sake of it” I said “I have adi fferent approach that may help you”
“What's that” he replied curiously.
“Having an IT Strategy / Vision is a good thing. However trying to implement it in isolation of the rest of your company is difficult. What you need to do is work with the rest of the your company to understand what their business visions and objectives are. From this you can then identify opportunities that will help them to deliver their objectives but also help you to start to slowly build you IT Strategy and platform of the future. So over time you will start to deliver your IT Strategy but will also be delivering value to your company”
“That sounds like a plan”, he replied, “but it feels hard and slow”
“Delivering strategy is hard. Coming up with the vision is the easy bit. Working out how, what and when to deliver it is the hard bit” I replied “It is also not slow as you are delivering value across your company both from an IT and non-IT point of view. So it is a win win for everyone”
“It's worth a try” he said as he gazed at the ceiling thinking of how to start to make this happen.
This is one of the reasons why IT Strategy never gets implemented and it ends up as a dusty document on a shelf somewhere. The IT department come up with these grand visions but then don't do the hard graft of working with the rest of the organisation to understand and identify opportunities to deliver business objectives whilst starting to delivery parts of the IT strategy.