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Expansion on Strategy 1: Aligning Proposals with Overall Business Strategy

A CIO presents his IT programme to the board. He looks confident.

To secure funding for their initiatives, Technology Leaders must align their proposals with the overall business strategy of the organisation. This strategic alignment is crucial for establishing a clear connection between the proposed initiatives and the company’s long-term goals. By showcasing how their ideas contribute to the organisation’s success, leaders can enhance their credibility and increase the likelihood of obtaining the necessary funding.

Here are some key aspects to consider when aligning your proposals with the business strategy:

Understand the Business Strategy:

Technology Leaders need to have a deep understanding of the organisation’s business strategy, goals, and objectives. By comprehending the broader vision and direction of the company, leaders can identify areas where technology initiatives can create a significant impact. This understanding allows them to tailor their proposals to directly address the strategic priorities of the organisation. 

Takeaways: Do you have a current copy of the strategic plan for the company on your desk or bookmarked on your computer?  Do you understand where funds are already committed in other areas of the business? Are you and the CEO on the same page as far as the strategic vision for the organisation is concerned? Do you understand the operational constraints that will be faced by different departments in bringing the strategic plan to fruition?  When you can speak about the plan from the perspective of every department and senior manager, you can be satisfied that you understand it and should be able to see the opportunities for the IT function to deliver wins.

Identify Strategic Opportunities:

Once familiar with the business strategy, tech leaders should identify strategic opportunities where technology can play a transformative role. They need to evaluate how their proposals align with the company’s goals and how they can contribute to revenue growth, cost optimisation, operational efficiency, customer experience enhancement, or competitive advantage. By identifying these opportunities, leaders can position their initiatives as strategic enablers rather than standalone technology projects.

Takeaways: Your technology initiatives should be deeply connected to making or saving time and money. When viewed through the lens of the strategic plan, it should be clear they are not one-off initiatives that are easier for a board to refuse or defund.

Establish Clear Objectives and Key Results (OKRs):

Technology Leaders should define clear objectives and key results that align with the organisation’s overall strategic objectives. These OKRs should outline the specific outcomes the initiatives aim to achieve and the metrics by which success will be measured. By linking their proposals to tangible results that align with the business strategy, leaders can effectively communicate the value of their initiatives to the board.

Takeaways: Don’t assume that the board can interpret the same data as you and arrive at the same result.  Specify the objectives that you can measure and control and that continue to align with the business strategy.

Show Impact and Return on Investment (ROI):

Technology Leaders must quantify the impact and return on investment of their proposed initiatives. This involves conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis to determine the financial implications and anticipated outcomes. By presenting a compelling business case that outlines the potential financial gains, cost savings, or efficiency improvements, tech leaders can demonstrate how their proposals align with the organisation’s strategic priorities and provide a positive return on investment.

Takeaways: Run the numbers and use them to generate confidence in your business cases.  Don’t give in to the temptation to fudge numbers or obfuscate them – this will either i) create a project delivery issue down the track or ii) affect the board’s confidence in you.  Spend the time to demonstrate exhaustive planning has gone into it and realistic assumptions about expenditure and Return on investment have been used.

Communicate in Business Terms:

When presenting their proposals to the board, Technology Leaders should use language that resonates with business stakeholders. Avoid technical jargon (even basic acronyms can be confusing without an explanation) and focus on the business value, risk mitigation, and competitive advantage that the investment will produce to help board members understand the relevance and impact of the initiatives.

Takeaways: When communicating to the board, think like a CEO and use the business strategy as leverage to drive home the real-world impact of your ideas.  Position yourself as a strategic partner to the board, not the representative of a cost centre, as is often the view of the IT function. This alignment helps board members see the value of technology initiatives in driving the organisation forward and encourages them to provide the necessary funding and support.


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