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Creating IT strategy (with a little help from enterprise architecture)

Creating IT strategy is one of the complicated  task that I know. To create a good IT strategy, you have to use many ingredients  from different types and sources. Those ingredients  should be used  in unique combination that can be cooked and then be served as a delicious Cake  to different customers ( IT workers, IT management, Information workers,  enterprise CxOs and sometimes the board). In this post I’ll try to describe  what, and who I manage to create an IT strategy.

Usually I tend to split my work into 6 main work  streams:

  1. Collecting as-is data
    1. Mapping IT assets: collecting existing IT assets  to understand what IT manage and to get a hint how.
      1. Information model: information entities and their  relations. Helps to understand interaction between business units and level of  integration from business perspective. Information model is also being used as  an input to Information management.
      2. Applications and products : applications  (internal development), External products and relations. Will be used for  different aspects as well as mapping to core-context model.
      3. Technologies, Databases and servers : collect  data about technical component and their relations. Used to understand what  stand behind each application/product and to find out if resources are balanced  (from usage point of view) and if new technologies (such as virtualization) are  applicable.
      4. Communication infrastructures : same as  technologies, but focused on communication.
      5. DRP : current design recovery plan.
      6. Information security : what procedures and IT  assets are in place to support information security.
      7. Information from externals: what type of  information the enterprise is getting from externals, in what format and how the  data is being handled by the enterprise.
    1. Information management: how information is  manage, who own information, who use it, what is each information availability,  etc’
    2. Program of Work (POW) management : what is the  current (if exists), how POW is being prepared, who is involved in this effort,  what are the inputs for the process, is the POW address IT needs or just  business needs, is it multiyear plan, is the plan enable prioritization and  control, do we have milestones, deliverables and time tables, etc’ 
    3. Budget management : who current budget is build  (centralized or separated between business units), how the process is being  done, who is involved, what are the inputs, is it multiyear budget, do we have  breakdown of budget chapters, is the budget structure represent the major areas  of expanses, is the structure enable management queries regarding budget  behavior, Can we optimize budget without changing IT deliverables,  etc’
    4. IT equipment procurement management: are there  any policies regarding procurement (Tender, predefined suppliers, how the  process is done, where), what are the relations to other business units (when IT  purchases), how IT physical assets are managed, any retire principles for IT  equipment, etc’ 
    5. Project management : is there one and uniform  process for IT project, is the project follow PRINCE2, PMBOK or any other  project management methodology.
    6. IT infrastructure management (ITIL) :   checking who much ITIL is implemented (even if its not ITIL explicitly) .  Are we implementing any management of Incident, problem, configuration, release,  change, capacity, financial, availability, continuity and service  level.
    7. Governance: mapping the IT against governance  frameworks such as COBIT.
    8. IT organizational structure and Human resources  management. Existing structure and how it should support current tasks, one shop  or shop per business unit, duplicated teams, location of teams  in  hierarchy, are teams located in the same physical location, compensation per  role, etc’.
    9. Training / Education : Current training and  education plan or opportunities available, are they per role, are they address  known gap in worker knowledge, are they related to POW, etc’
    10. IT management – supporting forums:   Are there any IT or enterprise wide forums that serve IT needs or IT is  involved in, what is the perception of IT, is the CIO has CEO support, what is  the CIO location in organization structure,  etc’
  1. Understand the business, future direction and who  it impact IT
    1. Business capabilities : what are the functions  performed by the business to reach goals and objectives. Including new  capabilities (or changes in capabilities) that support new business directions,  or any business change. Used to see alignment between IT and business needs  (current and future)
    2. End-to-End business processes (Value chain):  mapping main processes that generate value to the enterprise. Used to see  interaction and integration between business  units.
  1. Understand new technology future IT directions  and how they can Impact the business.
  2. Create TO-BE architecture: Creating new  architecture (blueprint or high level architecture) based on business  directions, new technology options, key finding from IT assets mapping and IT  as-is mapping.
  3. Identify gaps between as-is and to-be: list all  gaps in each element that we mapped in the “AS-IS”
  4. Translate gaps into a roadmaps with dependencies  and assignments : group gaps into projects, write one page of project high level  analysis, assign resources to projects and  creating a road map  (taking in account dependencies )

Then I translate the work streams data into a word document with  6 main chapters:

  1. Executive summary. Actually I’m writing different  executive summary for each audience using  relevant linkage to  document paragraphs. I found out that although it’s more work it proves to be  more digestible.  This way I can use different lingo and sharp  different aspects of the strategy for each audience without rewriting the entire  document and with ability for adjustments on the other hand.
  2. Description of the as-is + to-be. Describe the  data as it was collected from different roles. This part should hold just facts.  I’m using it to build my findings on top of agreed facts.
  3. Analysis : TO-BE based on analysis of collected  data.
  4. Blue-prints and Principles : based on the  analysis what need to be done, and which principles should be followed by the  enterprise.
  5. Roadmap : Translate blueprints and principles  into defined projects with assignments and dependencies with other projects and  resources.

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