How to Speed Up Your Strategic Plans

Ninety three percent of business leaders view IT strategic planning as important, but most are disappointed with the results.

The traditional benefits of long-term planning are being eroded by today’s changing business environment and greater business involvement in technology decision making.

So, to be successful, IT plans must consistently respond to an evolving set of contexts, stakeholders, and business problems (see chart 1).

Reallocate effort to boost responsiveness

Chart 1: Reallocate effort to boost responsiveness Redistribution of effort across stages during responsive planning; illustrative Source: CEB analysis

Four Hallmarks of Responsive Plans
Overall, responsive IT plans have four hallmarks.

They are articulated in terms of business capabilities: The plan defines objectives in terms of business capabilities to ensure IT processes support business strategy and real business goals.

Based on documented assumptions: The plan includes assumptions that can be validated (that target customers earn a certain level of income, or revenue if they are business customers, for example), and that can be tracked to determine when a refresh is needed.

Owned closest to point of value delivery: The plan is owned by service managers or others who are closest to those employees that are actually using the IT services in the strategic plan to ensure effective execution and timely updates.

Consolidated and communicated on one page: The plan is communicated on one page or a single clear visual to help achieve overall message clarity.

Gustav Toppenberg, formerly a senior manager, enterprise architecture at Cisco (now leading service management at Aon and a member of CEB’s network of IT professionals), explains at a recent CEB meeting how, when at Cisco, they implemented a responsive planning and roadmapping approach aligned to their service management model.

Cisco simplified the planning process and allocated resources at the level of IT service lines, not just IT projects. Then, when the needs of IT’s internal customers change, the relevant service manager immediately understands the urgency and can change the IT service plan to suit