The formula for running and growing any business is fairly simple.
There are 3 variables that you need to define to get the right answer for your business and the business technology portfolio.
- Goals: What do I want to accomplish over time?
- Strategies: What path am I going to take to get to my goals?
- Projects: How do I implement the strategies?
It’s all very straight forward in theory, however in practice it’s much harder because there are a lot of other things that demand your attention while running and growing a business.
The key is focus and measurement.
- Focus on the goals – if a strategy/project isn’t contributing to the goals, why are you doing it?
Maintaining focus is crucial. If you waver, then something is going to go awry. Discipline yourself to concentrate on the goals whenever a decision has to be made. I.e. How does this decision impact my goals? Spending resources (time, money, people) on anything that doesn’t positively advance a strategy is wasted.
- Measure the progress along the strategic path. – are you getting results you want from projects to further the strategy? If not, make mid-course corrections as needed.
Metrics tell you where you’re at on the road. Define your key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can use your information systems to pull data about your progress. For example, if your goal is revenue growth, check your revenue numbers regularly and if they’re not going in the right direction find out why. If your KPI’s aren’t measurable, how are you going to know if you are making progress?
- Are projects meeting their deadlines and delivering what they promised? Check on them regularly and if they’re off-course – either correct or kill the project.
Organize your projects so that you have someone on the executive team accountable for the oversight of the project. Download a sample Project Initiative Charter for a good project template. Those executive sponsors should report back on a regular basis to the executive team regarding progress, problems and roadblocks. Make sure that the project implementation team has key stakeholders deeply involved in all the decisions that the team needs to make. The key stakeholders are the ones that will make or break a project. They’re the champions of the project and will extol the benefits to their peers and staff if they believe they have a stake in the outcome.
Know that you don’t have the resources to do everything at once. Focusing on those projects that provide the most value, in line with the strategic path, will return a better result than many thinly resourced projects that take too long to complete. To learn more, see: How to Create an IT Strategic Plan.