I’ve been working with our CIO on the I.T. strategic planning initiative. At the same time, I’ve been working with the Technical Directors and Operational Directors on planning at the technology level. They have been creating a map of what technologies are used to support our services. I’ve had my head in the blue sky of the strategic planning process while I’ve also had my hands in the dirt of the technology mapping. I keep coming up against the issue of how to connect the blue-sky of the strategic plan with the down-in-the-dirt technology planning.
Finding a process and methodology to connect the sky to the ground has taken up a lot of my mental cycles recently. The following is my take on a method to connect the strategic planning to the technology planning.
1. Strategy to Capabilities
The first step is to take the general directives of a strategic plan and have them expressed in terms of capabilities. I see this work being done by leadership as part of a collective planning exercise. As an example, a strategic initiative might be: Classrooms and learning spaces will be equipped with a base set of instructional technologies. This strategic direction then needs to be interpreted into a set of defined and measurable capabilities. A leadership team would be charged with determining the capabilities that would meet this strategic direction. The capabilities should be measurable.
For example, the capabilities might be: Multimedia Projection, Student Response Measurement and Lecture Capture
We could survey all rooms and learning spaces and get measures of current state (for example: 65% of rooms meet the projector capability, 15% meet the student response and 10% meet the lecture capture capability). We could then decide priority – which is more important lecture capture or student response – act on those priorities and measure improvement.
2. Capabilities to Services
The next part of this to map our services to the strategic capabilities. Some services support multiple capabilities (Hosting Services, Identity Management Services for example). Some capabilities may not have a supporting enterprise service. A capability that does not have a set of supporting services might indicate a gap in the enterprise. For example, there may not be a matching Lecture Capture Service that provides the Lecture Capture capability. This might be done in an ad hoc fashion or it might be missing completely. This gap in the enterprise service would be worth evaluating to see if the capability is being delivered effectively in the current structure. If not, then we might want to look at developing an enterprise-wide Lecture Capture Service that supports all of the classrooms.
3. Services To Technical Roadmaps
This is where we use the brick diagram in our planning. The brick diagram captures the technologies that support a given service. The brick captures what is current state (those technologies currently in use), what is tactical (what will be used for the next 0-2 years), what is strategic (on the plans to use 2-5 years out), what is in containment (no new development), what is in retirement (being stopped) and what is emerging (interesting trends that may move into the tactical or strategic realms in the future).
These brick diagrams are created and maintained by the service owner – that is the group that manages the service being provided. The bricks let the service owners and the service teams grab a snapshot of their current state and their strategic plan for the next few years – what they will leverage, what they will stop, what they are watching and what they want to move to – in a simple format.
Core Planning Stack from Tech to Strategy
This set of relationships is managed by a set of governance process that define and prioritize the layer below.
At the lowest level, the service manager or service team usually defines and prioritizes the technology they use to deliver that service. This is the layer that is captured in a brick diagram. They should also describe the capabilities that are delivered by their service and which strategic directions they support.
At the top level, senior leadership should work to refine the strategic directions as measurable capabilities that want to see delivered.
The mid-level governance is a gap in our institution. It is probably filled by project prioritization processes and budget processes. I’ll talk about that in part 2 of this post.