by Greg Gilmore

Success isn’t a straight line: survival requires continuous planning

Dec 19, 2017
Digital TransformationIT LeadershipIT Strategy

What you need is more continuous planning to deliver on your commitments.

business planning
Credit: Thinkstock

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” said Ferris Bueller during his famous “Day Off.” The sentiment applies to IT these days.

You’re busy day-to-day keeping the lights on, integrating legacy and new technologies, and trying to support your business colleagues as they anxiously attempt to incorporate technology in everything. How can you be sure your efforts are connecting to the bigger picture and achieving results?

It’s no longer enough to be an indentured servant to an annual plan that’s outdated before you can say “Bueller?” The pace of business today makes it critical to constantly monitor and adapt to the ceaseless demands, changes, twists and turns of execution. What you need is more continuous planning to help deliver on your highest-priority commitments.

Meandering from the straight and narrow

Already, 85 percent of CIOs and IT leaders said their organizations deviate from the approved annual plan several times a year to meet new internal and external business requests, according to an IDG Research Services survey. However, one-third of these IT departments are still measured on and held accountable for annual plan goals with no consideration for these additional demands.

Meanwhile, the pressure to stay competitive has businesses moving at light speed to develop innovative, revenue-producing products and services supported by technology (i.e., you and your organization). In this context, the organizations surveyed said overcommitted resources and IT’s lack of capacity to meet new demands are their top challenges. These issues advance the perception that IT can’t adapt quickly enough.

It’s not that organizations aren’t working on this. According to IDG’s 2017 “Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker” survey, about two-thirds of IT executives and Line of Business (LOB) executives are teaming up on a “digital first strategy.” Yet the top hindrance to digital transformation, according to PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey of 2,216 business and IT leaders from 53 countries, is lack of collaboration between IT and business.

It’s no wonder there’s a disconnect here. You understand the challenges of digital transformation initiatives, since your team is responsible for execution. There’s certainly a need for more agility to respond to market needs and changing demands while being smart about trade-offs.

Yet it goes further than that. Creating today’s complex, interconnected products and services that advance your business requires an unprecedented level of coordination between strategy, work, people, technology, and outcomes.

Continuous planning at work

Managing all these moving parts and targets is why continuous planning is so important. It’s about turning your strategic plan into an actionable plan that enables you to adapt and react to new information from your organization and beyond. This entails a strategic roadmap that you can operationalize and manage with your colleagues across the enterprise. By constantly updating this living roadmap, you can more effectively prioritize, communicate and coordinate initiatives – as well as execute on them.

At Planview, we’ve seen that our customers who embrace a continuous planning mindset are experiencing real results. This is because they have combined it with an integrated work and resource portfolio, which gives them a higher-impact view of resources across the enterprise to better achieve their objectives. This is what we call “work and resource management.”

For example, as the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways operates more than 1,000 flights per week to 110 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. To enable rapid growth, the company successfully embedded a consistent project portfolio management process to connect strategy with execution across the organization. They have improved schedule performance by 20 percent and accelerate time to market by four weeks.

Here are a few other business results companies have achieved by using continuous planning to connect strategy to execution:

  • A product company sped the development of new, innovated products by 12 months by prioritizing the most-promising products over non-strategic activities.
  • A global automotive manufacturer with a $30 million strategic portfolio saved $7 million in wasted investment by improving strategic execution of large cross-functional programs and increasing the number of successful initiatives. All projects are aligned to corporate strategy and decisions are based on real, up-to-date information, keeping the company focused and efficient.
  • A financial services company increased profit margins by shifting 20 percent of R&D, IT, and marketing time to strategic roadmap work to create winning products.
  • A manufacturing company successfully managed risks and opened operating plants that were ready to produce new products on day one, using strategic roadmaps that drove prioritization and prevented gaps across the organization.

In 2018, live more in the moment with continuous planning. Otherwise, you could miss out on the opportunity to prioritize and adapt on the fly.