owen at owengreaves dot com

I.T. Strategic Planning

The Future of I.T. Strategic Planning

We will have to unlearn much of what we understand about I.T. Strategic Planning, the landscape is a never ending body of movement, change and definition, static rules are no longer useful. Much of what we know is in the control model, we build closed systems to protect data and deflect those who wish see it. In the future much of this data will not be behind walls, much of it will be readily available for consumption. Data that is not for consumption by the world will still need to be kept safe, but for the most part, it will be available.

Depending on how your organization is structured, bricks & mortar, I.T. Teams already in place, you will still have to adopt to the new Open & Free Business Model and wireless connectivity. Content normally consumned will conitinue, some content that was not available will find it’s way out into the open.

If you ask CIO’s today what the landscape will look like in the 5 – 10 years they probably can’t tell you. Why? If the exponential growth of technology is to continue we will have to learn or find a way to think exponentially, not continue in our linear fashion. Information Technology is going 2,4,8,16 and 30 steps later you are at a billion. The growth rate is impossible to keep up, let alone predict what we will or won’t be able to do in the next 10,20,30, to 50 years. Many of us might not be here to witness the true Matrix like living, but Virtual Reality will seem more real than the reality you live today. How do we plan for Virtual Reality?

I.T. Strategic Planning in the future will have to embrace more open business models and develop for everything mobile, infact, you should be doing that today! Simple things like the need for tech support will be gone, you won’t need to budget for personal, you will only need to budget for nanotechnology that will seemlessly fix problems, because we will all be connected. Remote access won’t exsist as we know it, it will just happen, and authentication won’t be necassary because clearance will be built in. The current framework won’t work for your organization 5 years from now. CIO’s will have to view everything with bionic contact lenses, where everything technology is about being mobile, embedded into eye care, and handheld devices. In the far future we will all become wireless devices and be seemlessly connected to the data we need.

The I.T. Strategic Planning steps I have made available here on my Blog, work for todays business models, but in the next 3 – 5 years they will fail because the plans won’t scale. There are 1.7 Billion on the Internet today, over the next 5 years that number will grow to 5 Billion, has your current I.T. Strategic Plan factored in this large growth already? What does that kind of growth mean to your organization, and how does it impact your I.T. Strategic Planning?

You may understand what your organization needs today, but are you looking out far enough, do you have enough information to show executives what is coming, I’m not convinced most CIO’s are looking. The future of I.T. Strategic Planning will no longer start will the 1st building block, we are way past that now, we will be building ontop of what we have already.

Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know, we can’t see the details of what’s coming but we know something far bigger is coming, and it’s not a small home network. I spend a great deal of time looking at the future and I work backwards to present day, that’s where helping you figure things out gets interesting. Creative ideas on how to adapt new technologies, how to use them and how they will improve revenues is where you should invest your time.

I.T. Strategic Planning is morphing, changing shape, are you fighting it or going with it? I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of I.T. Strategic Planning.

Measuring Business Processes

Last year I wrote an article called ” I.T. Decisions – Who Makes Them In Your Organization? “. Often the wrong people are making these decisions, they aren’t bad people but they should rely on those who work with Technology and understand the implications of making the wrong choices. One of the best ways to prevent the wrong people from making I.T. decisions is to make sure all business processes are well documented and measured (weighted). Why you ask?

  • If all subject matter experts in your business were to document their business processes, you would know exactly what each staff person has to do each and everyday to get the job done.
  • You then have a foundation to measure the right software applications for your business
  • These business processes can now be measured and weighted to help make I.T. decisions for your organization

Those are just few but you should be getting the idea.

There are many ways of handling the task of measuring business processes but I’ll try to keep it simple for you. There are two things I would recommend:

  1. Build a Database (MySQL or SQL) to store your business processes & the weighting
  2. Build Excel Worksheets to enter & pull these processes and weights from the Database

Years ago I had a couple of really sharp guys working for me, they built a nifty application (system) for us to measure our business processes against features in software applications. We wanted to have a snapshot of how each application matched up against each other, the problem is we didn’t have an easy way to see all our requirements on one page. We also didn’t know which processes were more important than others.

The first step is to pull your key subject matter experts together, get all business processes documented for each role in the organization. This ensured you knew what tasks had to be completed each and everyday to do business. Depending on your business this can be an easy job or a labour intensive one. I highly recommend this gets done regardless of how hard or how long it takes, because it makes future upgrades and or the decision to change a core application in your organization much easier.

Once you have your business processes documented you have something to work with when deciding what software or ERP systems implement, this job takes time but it’s well worth it. Enter these processes into your database, then build spreadsheets to pull that data out for review.

In your database you want to also store a measurement we’ll call weighting for this example. Why? When you sitdown and have software demonstrated you can ask key questions, does this software do this and that from your database. Afterall, you are asking directly from how you do business (your documented business processes). You now want to be able to give that process a score or measurement when sitting in these demonstrations. Your scale might look like this:

1 – Does it well and is easy to use

3 – Does it but not well – not easy to figure out or use

5 – May need to be modified

9 – Not sure – need more information

0 – Doesn’t do it at all

In your spreadsheet you would use the above scale to measure the software you are looking at on a business process by business process basis. Sounds tedious doesn’t it? It is when setting things up the first time, after that it gets much easier because you don’t need to build it again.

This is just one way of measuring your business process against software, you could and should group your business processes by importance as well. That way you know exactly what you MUST have and what the NICE to have’s would be.

I hope that helps, feel free to conatct me if you have questions or wish to go through this process for your business.

I would love your feedback, what do you think and do you have a better way?

My Goals for Owen Greaves Consulting in 2010

I spent many years just winging it, just responding to what felt right and mostly what felt good, sound familiar?  I have found that there are more business owners, check that, most people were doing the same thing. As I mentioned in my previous post, we spend more time planning a two week vacation than we do our careers and our lives. Why is that? I suspect due to a lack of knowledge, a poor understanding of what’s at stake here….it’s your life and you only get one chance to do it. Enough about that, I want to share with you what drives me and what my vision for Owen Greaves Consulting is for 2010.

I have met and worked for many, many business owners, CIO’s, COO’s, and they all struggle with the same things for the most part. They know what they want to do, but don’t really know how to build and implement a strong I.T. Plan. I.T. visionaries are way ahead of the rest of the organization, think of a funnel, you have a narrowing in the middle, a wide open area at one end and small opening at the other end. The visionary is out in the wide open section and instructs back to the small opening at the other end to do this or that. A short period of time goes by and he / she is frustrated because what they saw and instructed is not done. Why?

visionfunnel

The workers back at the small opening can’t see the big picture through the narrow opening in the middle, they don’t see what the visionary see’s way out there, they can’t even see where he is. The problem is at the narrow opening in the middle right? There has to be someone there that can clearly articulate what the visionary wants done back to the people (workers) in the small opening at the back. You might say things get lost in translation, it can happen if the person in the middle does not clearly understand what the visionary wants!

So what does this have to do with my vision for 2010. It’s obvious to me that there is a bigger problem than the funnel, it’s the man in the middle. Having someone who can build the plan so the workers can get done what the visionary wants completed. My vision, to help that person or organizations with a simple way to build that Strategic Technology Plan and to ensure that all businesses indeed do have a plan. Most don’t, they rely on internal staff, staff that don’t know how to build a plan because they are frankly too close to the problem(s). Most business owners think they know how, but they all too often are using the wrong filters to truly understand what the I.T. Plan should look like and be. Some of the smartest business people in the world don’t fully understand what needs to be in the I.T. Strategic Plan, hence they should hire the right people and or consultants to help build that strategy. No matter how big or small your business is, you should have a good plan on how technology will drive your business.

Most organizations have not documented what thier business processes are! How could they possibly know which software application, payroll, HR, CRM software and what have you to implement if they don’t know each and every process it takes to get the job done in a day. My goal is to ensure as many businesses / owners as possible have a good I.T. Plan. This has very little to do with Social Media but it has much to do with Technology overall. Social Media happens to be a large part of my work at the moment and it’s the hot topic of discussion everywhere I go.

My Plans for 2010:

  • Increase Public Speaking Engagements – on The New Technology, I.T. Strategies / Planning
  • To educate and teach 100 businesses develop an I.T. Strategic Plan. (roughly 8 new businesses per month)
  • Develop a video series on developing I.T. Strategic Plans. ( The I.T. Strategic Planning Series)
  • Continue working on my next eBook, The New Technology Pt 2. (hope to complete by end of 2010)
  • Write more often on my Blog. (daily if possible)
  • Get more subscribers on my Blog.
  • And of course, increase revenues ( I have to put that on here)

If you don’t have a list of items or targets, stop right now and make one…make two! What are you aiming for in 2010 and how do you plan to hit your targets? Better yet, what’s your I.T. Strategy for 2010?

I can see a problem with my list already, if I want to be successful, I have to find a few things to not consider doing. I may have to hire or partner up if I want to achieve all my goals.

What’s On Your List?

What's Your Plan For 2010?

You notice I didn’t ask you what your New Years Resolution(s) was or going to be? I don’t believe in or like New Years Resolutions because they set you up to fail. I won’t go in to why but I think you already know. We take more time to plan our vacations than we do our careers and or business goals for the next 1,2,3…5 years.

If you are a business owner you know that everything is in the plan, without it you don’t have a target, objectives and a road map to where you want to be in the next year, or the next 5. There are plans and then there wish lists, plans have long & short term goals. Wish lists don’t, they are nice to have’s or something you would like to have happen as a bonus to your plan.

Many of you are wondering what 2010 will bring, is business going to improve, will you find more work and so on. I don’t have a crystal ball, if I did I would know what’s going to happen to me let alone the sate of the Global market. I know this, we spend far too much time worrying, chasing and forgetting what’s truely important in our day-to-day lives.

Youv’e heard it said before, no one ever says on their death bed that they wished they worked more hours and had a bigger house or more money. They always say, I wish I had of spent more time with my kids, wife and taken more time for myself. You should know that I survived a heart attack in 2001, I can tell you first hand I never once thought about my job, my car, my house or any posession. I can tell you that I thought about my Lisa, my two boys Tyler & Brandon, my goals since then, to be and do more with them more often. I have and I continue to make sure my family gets the best of me.

We all have plans for different parts of our lives but mostly about our work and things we want from a material point of view. Business plans are abundent this time of year as new goals are put forward, hoping business will be better the next year than the last.  That’s OK, you should set those objectives, it’s good business to do so.

In 2010 much is going to change, but what? How will it impact your business and could you survive those changes you don’t see coming.  The level of risk when planning to upgrade full ERP systems, Payroll Software or an Office Suite may be low, but what happens when your business doesn’t reach sales objectives? How do you respond, what should you do? If you have a plan, you’ll know exactly what to do and even see clearly what steps to take to turn things around.

There a many, many templates and websites that can help you if you don’t have a plan, the business plan, the I.T. Strategic Plan and so on. I review many business plans and even more I.T. Strategic Plans and I can tell you almost immediately which ones are going to help when a crisis arrives. Everything is in the Plan.

What’s Your Plan For 2010?

Mine? Go over my plan and make adjustments as needed long term. I’m currently working on my short term plan, for the coming year called 2010. I’ll share some of my plans in my next Blog post.

You? Do you have one you can work from to ensure the next year has a road map?