The Xirocco IT Strategy Framework

Challenge

Most consultancies have their proprietary methods of creating IT Strategy, each derived from their own unique experiences of practicing the art and science with customers and refined over time. These methods are often not made public, and considered Intellectual Property that brings them steady revenues from repeat implementations. This field has not undergone the type of transformation that opensource, community-driven frameworks like PRINCE2, TOGAF and ITIL have brought on their respective areas. As a result of this void created by a missing best practice framework, organisations that have no desire to engage consultancies follow their own intuition with varying outcomes – from robust and coherent strategies to those that are little more than loose lists of “fix its”; pending database upgrades, hardware replacement schedules etc.

IT Strategies created with good intentions but poorly articulated, with little coherence and linkage to business outcomes that Boards and budget holders really care about, often miss the opportunity to substantiate the value of IT and inadvertently drive the loss of trust of businesses in their internal IT departments.

Solution

Build, Link & Present a Board-orientated IT Strategy

Xirocco understands what Boards and top leadership look for in an IT Strategy. It guides users to input data in benchmarked, best practice formats and sequences that have been developed through decades of experience and automatically ensures the output is Board orientated. With a modern consumer-grade interface and an embedded best-practice framework, it ensures IT Strategy is created in correct order, with tight linkages and loopbacks, accelerated by step-by-step guides, automation, templates, and illustrative content all of which mean a coherent, Business-linked IT Strategy can be created 10x faster than traditional processes and reduce the need for specialist skills or expensive consultancy services.

Capture, Link & Track IT-enablement of Strategic Business Objectives

Great companies grow and thrive purposefully, they outline a set of intentions and organise themselves around the work to realise these intentions. When circumstances change, they adopt by changing their strategy.

This contrasts with companies that grow organically in an ad hoc manner, mainly by delivering all work that incidentally comes their way. Xirocco helps you achieve your vision and drive growth by capturing and managing organisational objectives (e.g. Business, IT, Regulatory, Financial etc.) and easily linking your IT assets, resources, and money with Board-friendly visuals. Drill into deeper levels of detail across multiple dimensions to keep pace and direction with Board strategy discussions.

Scan Horizon & Import Trends into Your IT Strategy

An IT Function that focuses most of its time and effort on enhancing existing assets and capabilities quickly loses its relevance. In the best companies, IT has evolved from an execution function that simply maintains software and hardware to an intelligent function on emerging technologies that transform business activities and generates opportunities for their organisation. These IT functions are in the best position to understand which emerging technologies will be disruptive, which will provide new opportunities, and which can be ignored. Business leaders rely on this guidance to make decisions on where to invest time, effort, and money.

The best companies in the world continuously monitor trends and threats and immediately (and in some cases in real-time) develop responses to leverage strengths, exploit opportunities and nullify threats. With Xirocco’s Futures feature, you can bring sector-related trends and emerging threats directly into your IT Strategy dialogue, assess and percolate upwards for Board action where necessary. Map in-flight initiatives and objectives to the radar to track how your organisation is responding and flush out gaps before they become urgent. Strategy teams will be alerted when new trends and threats are registered (by your internal experts or external advisors) and prompted to respond, dismiss, or defer.

Assess Starting Position

After understanding the business direction and intentions but before articulating solutions in IT Strategy, it is important to understand the current state of existing IT projects, assets and resources to establish if they meet or can scale/adapt to meet the requirements of new or changed business priorities.

With Xirocco’s IT Diagnostic module, perform a quick and lite assessment of IT current state to identify challenges and barriers to IT without answering 200 detailed questions that may not be relevant or important for Board comprehension. Highlight major pain areas using Xirocco’s customisable dashboards & heatmaps specifically designed for Board understanding.

Set CIO Vision & Goals

The CIO Vision statement sets the “bar” for purpose and aspirations of the IT function within the context of the organization. It is an important communication tool to the organisation that sets the Board-approved CIO agenda indicating the role of IT on a scale of lowest cost operator (order taker) to business enabler/partner with a seat at the Board table.

IT Vision and Goal fields allows users to draft Vision and Goal statements, Xirocco ensures the output is richly visual and correctly positioned in the context of the overall IT Strategy. A repository of sample statements and impact words are available as accelerators.

Align Business & IT (Continually)

Aligning IT Strategy and Business Strategy has been considered a “critical” business issue in most organisations for well over twenty years. With Xirocco’s innovative Layer Cake feature, illustrate how good IT enables, and poor IT endangers, business aspirations.

Cut down time and effort by creating alignment artefacts (such as Business Operating Model, Business Process Framework, Target Architecture etc.) once and reuse easily everywhere within the organisation. Your most skilled resources (internal and external) can create strategy artefacts and publish for reuse within the organisation, increasing team productivity and efficiency while decreasing the need for redundant skills and person dependency.

Build Technology Strategy

For good and known reasons, the Management Board at most organisations tends to be semi or fully IT illiterate. This makes presenting technology strategy challenging and often results in the CIO walking away without the vital funds they need to scale, modernise, and secure the IT estate.

With Xirocco, articulate a technology strategy that not only anticipates and proactively answers the Board’s “big five” questions and ensures they understand why IT needs to do the things it does from a business perspective. Standardise, accelerate, and eliminate waste from Business Unit IT Strategies by creating common Technology Strategy components centrally in Group/Corp and push to Business Units. Alternatively, enable Business Units to “pull” content from Group, as necessary.

Build IT Target Operating Model

The IT Operating Model describes how the IT function organises the resources, capabilities, and assets available to it to maximise the value of technology investments and best deliver its remit to the business.

It provides a set of interactive artefacts that illustrate how IT operates, eliminates duplicate activities across boundaries and promotes service consistency through process standardization. With Xirocco’s TOM feature, build an IT Target Operating Model 20x faster by selecting an IT Blueprint from a range of industry-referenced, best practice templates and refine to reflect your desired target state. Automatically generate IT organisation charts that are aligned to the IT Operating Model. Stay objective and take the emotion out of contentious staffing and workforce re-alignment decisions.

Build IT Sourcing Strategy

Many organisations depend on a varied and resilient global IT supply chains to create, maintain, and update their IT capabilities, introduce IT innovation, execute digital transformation, and proactively bring best practices from across a range of industries.

Over time, this supplier ecosystem can become proliferated, disjoint, and tactical with significant duplication as short-term delivery speed takes precedence over strategic longer-term views. With Xirocco’s IT Sourcing Strategy module, analyse supplier spend and scope to understand how suppliers support IT in digitally enabling business activities. Log and monitor key supplier trigger events over a three-year sliding timeline and perform vendor assessment across multiple dimensions to secure Board support for critical IT sourcing decisions.

Secure Funds for IT Change & Innovation

"Storytelling helps boards understand how the business could be impacted by an investment requiring their approval. It's important to do that in a way that makes the information relevant to board members." CIO.com

Poorly articulated IT Strategies that fail to properly link IT budget requests to implications and outcomes for the business are often the reason why Management Boards don’t trust their IT functions and incorrectly conclude that “IT costs too much”. With Xirocco’s innovative IT investment management features, you can effectively link technology initiatives to business programmes and strategic business objectives to show the Board the direct impact of funding, deferring, and rejecting IT spend requests. You can access on a single pane the data across multiple dimensions to handle Board if-then-else queries and never again leave the Boardroom to “get more data”. Model IT investment scenarios till desired funding criteria and budgetary ceilings are satisfied.

Publish IT Strategy with Xirocco’s One Page Strategy & Narratives

Xirocco is the only tool to feature a rich, customisable, and interactive 1-Page Strategy (acknowledged by leading strategy advisories). Drill across and down through numerous dimensions – from strategic objectives, trends, risks, projects, applications, technology, and suppliers, to people and money.

Control and communicate sensitive IT Strategy information to stakeholders by creating and publishing customised audience-specific narratives that can be published/retracted. As narratives auto-update when underlying data evolves, never again send decks via email. Import and add your favourite PPT slides to any Xirocco narrative. Maintain master copies and previous versions, view latest activity, seek approvals and lock-down content to prevent further edits (e.g. ahead of that all-important Board meeting).

Manage IT Strategy with Continuous Strategy

Continuous Strategy is a radically different and more mature state of the strategy creation and communication process where organisations generate and publish their enterprise strategy in real-time, on demand, at the click of a button. McKinsey and Gartner talk along similar lines, called “Emergent Strategy” and “Continuous Foresight” respectively.

Continuous Strategy takes the episodic “traditional strategy” and makes it a continuous business-as-usual process whereby strategy becomes the DNA of the company, with no defined endpoint or target end state, capable of generating a current and relevant strategy snapshot on-demand, when the Board and other stakeholders want it. Click here to learn more about Continuous Strategy.

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