by Pradeep Henry

2 things that determine your project’s strategic potential

Apr 27, 2016
Business IT AlignmentEnterprise ApplicationsIT Strategy

Right up front, you must know with a fair level of certainty that your project has the potential to generate strategic business outcomes. Here's how.

Any significant project that an organization invests in must have strategic potential to begin with. Most technology projects are “significant” because they might not only have a positive impact, but cost a lot of money. From C-suite perspective, the technology project must contribute to business strategy directly or indirectly, in a big way or in a small way – as needed.

That’s why it’s critical to know up front whether or not a project being considered would eventually contribute to the organization’s overall business strategy.

Strategy translation

What determines strategic potential is how you do strategy translation. And strategy translation comprises two activities:

  1. Discovering stuff having strategic potential
  2. Designing it to have the capability to realize that potential.

The resulting architecture gives a reasonable degree of outcomes predictability before you make investments in implementation.

Let’s look at discovery and design in just a little bit of detail.

1. Discovery

The term “wildcatting” means drilling for oil in a location not already known to have an oil reservoir. Wildcatting belongs in the past when we did not have the needed methods and technologies. It meant outcomes uncertainty. Clearly, it was a risky activity.

Conventional software practice is not very different. We still use the traditional approach to selecting what we want to implement. The approach is faulty in two ways. Firstly, we often select software that would, at best, only generate standard benefits. In many situations, what we pick could be the wrong software to implement if seen from business strategy standpoint. Secondly, we often select only software rather than a synergistic combination of software and other business elements.

So, to ensure your project’s strategic potential, here’s the first of two most fundamental things to do: use a business-centric discovery method. The method should help discover a specific combination of software and business elements. The goal, of course, is to discover a combination that demonstrates potential.

2. Design

Design is the second of two most fundamental things to do to ensure strategic potential. Design is second because there’s little sense trying to design right something that isn’t the right thing for the organization. Interestingly, unlike discovery, a lot of methodical effort goes into design in conventional software practice. However, this effort is largely focused on technical and human factors. Which means the resulting architecture lacks business focus.

To ensure your project’s strategic potential, use a business-centric design method. The method should help structure the set of software and business elements already discovered. The method should enable designing to realize the potential identified earlier.

Knowing up front; by discovery, by design

How you do discovery and design determines whether or not your project has the potential to eventually generate strategic outcomes. If you are considering executing a project, you will want to use a discovery and design method driven by business strategy.