Who Should Lead Strategic Investment Planning?

Mike Gilpin poses this question in the most recent post to his blog.  This question was sparked at Forrester’s Business Process & Application Delivery Forum during a conversation during the session “Using The Next Generation PMO To Promote Innovation.” What’s interesting is that the question came from an attendee -- presumably aligned with their firm’s PMO -- who said that in their firm, strategic investment planning is led by their enterprise architecture team, which is responsible for the strategic planning and business architecture processes. 

There are multiple ways to come up with the “best answer” to this question. Nigel Fenwick discusses the answer in terms of the CIO’s responsibility to own strategy development -- and the coordination of functions necessary to carry out strategy. I’d like to answer this from the perspective of “what does it take to have an effective strategic investment planning process?”, examining the value the EA function and the PMO can provide. 

My colleague Craig Symons, who is Forrester’s expert on IT governance, defines effective governance as ensuring the best answers to these questions:

Effective governance answers the "4 Ares"

 

 

 

What EA can provide

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Vote For Forrester's IT Forum 2011 Theme

Are you ready for Forrester's IT Forum 2011? Mark your calendars for May 25-27 in Las Vegas and June 8-10 in Barcelona — and help us design an event that is as relevant and productive for you as possible. We've come up with three potential draft themes and need your vote for the best IT Forum 2011 theme:

1. Unleash your empowered enterprise.

As technology becomes more accessible through mediums beyond IT's control, you have but one choice: Get proactive by empowering employees, or swim against the current. Successful BT leaders will react not by blocking access but by lending their expertise to increase the chances of technology success and empowering the users to solve customer and business problems. This year's IT Forum will provide a blueprint for reaping the benefits of your empowered organization — complete with case studies, methodologies, and step-by-step advice tailored to each IT role.

2. Capitalize on the intersection of business and technology.

IT leaders have long struggled to deliver business and technology alignment.  But alignment implies a waterfall process: decide on a business strategy, and then build your technology on that foundation. Today, our businesses move too fast for the traditional IT model. Instead, Business Technology leaders must join the leaders of their lines of business to create business and technology strategy simultaneously.  That means working with new business partners inside and outside your organization, operationalizing innovation through standards, and above all, saying, "yes, and..." instead of "yes, but..." This year, we'll dedicate IT Forum to building bridges to new business partners, scaling innovative solutions, and co-creating business and technology strategy.

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Some Specifics On Those Top 15 Tech Trends

I've taken some heat in comments at the ZDNET version of my post about the top 15 tech trends research piece. Apparently, to non-Forrester clients who don't have access to the research on the website (except for a rather steep by-the-drink price), the blog post comes off as a teaser with no payoff. Mea culpa. Here's the deal: My process, like that of many analysts these days, is to do research, publish it on our website, and then yak about it via social media. While I'm very careful in Twitter to point out when links will take you to something that's free versus something that's for Forrester clients, I wrote the blog post that found its way to ZDNET's site mostly with Forrester clients in mind. It mostly says "Hey, check out this research doc. Here's what I was thinking when I set out to publish it."

What happens next is that the various analysts who contributed to the trends doc will post blog entries about their areas of expertise, specifically about the topics we talked about in the trends doc. So, in a few weeks, there will be lots of info for non-Forrester clients to read to dig into what we're talking about in this trends piece.

But for now, the social media campaign is looking too much like we're withholding the bottom line just to squeeze some bucks out of the public. Not so. In the interest of addressing that issue, here is a table of the tech trends in that piece, sorted by highest impact (over the next 3 years).

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The Six Thinking Hats

I want to introduce you to a book that will change the way you manage meetings and make collaborative decisions: Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. One of my CIO clients told me about this book, and I bought it used on Amazon for $0.01 (plus shipping and handling of course) – now that is a deal. Though I can’t see sitting in a room of business executives and saying “Now everyone put on your white thinking hat,” this book presents a very clear explanation of why our typical “everyone present their viewpoint” type of discussion is so dysfunctional. The problem is that people come from different perspectives, so we end up arguing apples and oranges. Six Thinking Hats lays out a process where everyone can get their position on the table in a way that encourages a more holistic look at the issue and results in fewer arguments and more discussion. Here is how it works:

During a problem-solving session, the facilitator solicits input from six different perspectives. The key is that while the group is thinking in a particular perspective, only comments that fit that perspective are allowed. The six perspectives are:

  • White hat – An objective look at the issue based entirely on facts and figures. This thinking type focuses on what we know or at least on the best information available. This type of thinking often dominates most IT discussions.
  • Red hat – Provides the emotional view. Data and reality don’t matter. Everyone gets to talk about how they feel about the issue. What I like about this perspective is that it legitimizes what people are feeling. They don’t have to defend their position with data. To me, this is the most often ignored perspective in IT discussions.
  • Black hat – This is the devil’s advocate viewpoint. The focus is on issues, challenges, roadblocks, and anything that can go wrong.
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What Does Your Organizational Weave Look Like?

Firms are often challenged to undertake transformation at a grand scale — to sustain and scale BPM programs across the organization. All firms are at subtly different levels of maturity, with different histories, unique cultures — and while there are many commonalities, every organization needs to approach the BPM and transformation agenda in subtly different ways.

Enterprisewide transformation involves a large number of people doing some pretty special things. The reality is that each organization will need its own subtle blend of skills, methods, techniques and tools. In a sense, the organization needs to weave its own proprietary method framework — to create its own fabric — a unique approach that reflects its special needs, the maturity of the different business units, the history of change, culture, and political challenges.

There will be people inside the organization that need to own that framework and set of methods, monitor its efficacy, and improve it over time. And while external resources can complement those employees, the executives at the helm should understand that they cannot abrogate responsibility for change. Too often, I hear the transformational objective stated and then followed by something like " . . . and we are looking for an outsource provider to do it all for us.” That sort of attitude is likely to end up in a courtroom (as things go sour down the line).
Coming back to the weave — populating that framework is always a challenge (since you only know what you know you know). What methods, techniques, and approaches does your organization need? For the organization to answer those questions effectively, it needs to understand the likely challenges it will encounter and assess the skills and capabilities required to overcome them.

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Tom Seaver On Performance Management

OK, a bit of a stretch here, but I did spend 15 minutes one-on-one with the great hurler last week at the Xerox analyst conference at Citi Field in New York. And thankfully, the Mets were not playing. Tom signed my baseball as I toyed with asking him about Roger Clemens, steroids, and Hall-of-Fame-type questions, and the best I could come up with was simply asking how hard he threw the ball in his prime. He scowled and looked at me as if talking to a 5-year-old and said, "There are three important things about pitching — and yes velocity is one, but location, and the ball's movement are the others, and speed is the least important." So I thought about this, and it occurred to me that we focus on speed — in this case — only because we have radar guns that can measure it well. Movement and location are more difficult, so we just ignore them. And perhaps this is a problem with performance management in business today. We focus not on the more important metrics, but the ones we can conveniently grasp. Contact center call duration, as an example, is much less important than the time or the number of successful customer encounters. So thanks, Tom, for this insight, and perhaps we should spend a bit more time taking an outside in approach to metrics.