When cost reductions of the classic kind no longer allow much potential, it makes sense to gain clarity about process optimisation and the role of IT as a supporter of business processes. An important instrument for this is the development of an IT strategy, which, derived from the classic corporate strategy, defines the roadmap for IT, which services and which programmes are to be delivered when.
Because every company and every organisation usually has special, individual structures and processes, it does not make sense to roll out the "one" strategy to a company. In the recent past, the product portfolio of the large IT system houses with their mostly large ERP systems has changed considerably. Whereas a few years ago it would have been unthinkable to store your data in the cloud, today cloud applications have easily overtaken on-site installations.
Requirements for mobility, analysis of data and processes, development of new products through rapid adaptation of processes in the ERP software, stronger focus on IT security and its availability, these are all topics that have a different weight today compared to the past. An IT strategy should set out the framework for IT use in the future. The requirements of users who are familiar with applications on mobile devices in the private environment, some of which are much more user-friendly, are increasing significantly for the use of ERP software or company software.
What can the IT strategy achieve? It helps companies, public authorities and service providers to get a clear picture of the challenges of digitalisation and the status of their own IT. The IT strategy helps to show which programmes and which IT applications are in which life cycle and when a replacement or renewal is necessary.
The focus of our work is not the marketing concept of digitalisation, but the implementation of the digital transformation. This is not a marketing idea, but part of our DNA. We see ourselves as implementation consultants to support our clients with our work and expert knowledge in making their own companies competitive in a digital world.
The process model we use for IT strategy development has been tested in practice and delivers the desired results in a short time. We start with the preparation of the IT strategy, which we call the ramp-up phase. In this phase, the team is defined, the timeline is set and various necessary project management tasks are carried out. Above all, an important point is to define the goal of the IT strategy: why is an IT strategy being developed and what information should it provide? In this context, it is also important to distinguish it from the out-of-scope - what is not the content of the IT strategy.
The development of an IT strategy for a project similar to a roadmap with milestones and work packages must be defined. An approximate estimate of the effort and time required by the staff involved is also drawn up at this early stage. All team members know their roles and their value contribution to this IT strategy development at the start of the first step.
Step 1: Determining the status quo. We work with the team to determine the maturity level of IT use to date. The IT organisation, the IT service, the IT applications (mostly ERP software), as well as the characteristics of the previous and future IT projects are examined and presented as a result. Strengths and weaknesses become clear very quickly and give indications of possible focal points.
Step 2: The analysis of the corporate strategy is used as the basis and derivation of challenges for the IT strategy. The classic instruments such as Porter's 5-Forces Competitive Analysis as well as portfolio management tools are used. In the process, the business processes and the requirements of the customers for the services as well as the expected value-added processes for the customer are examined in the specialised departments. From this, a first rough vision of an IT strategy is developed.
Step 3: Design application strategy. Based on the information and data collected and available, the life cycle of individual applications is presented and completed with the help of portfolio management. Based on this assessment of the maturity level of an application, an evaluation is made for all programmes in use. This usually includes the assessment of core programmes such as ERP software, associated extensions, independent third-party programmes and infrastructure programmes.
From this, courses of action develop such as: Continue Use, Replace, Modernise (Upgrade). These options for action are given the parameters of time and priority and ordered in a programme roadmap. The result is a representation of what a future application portfolio and programme landscape oriented to the new challenges should look like, based on a status quo analysis.
Step 4: Define sourcing strategy (cloud strategy). In this step, the IT strategy is elaborated in the context of sourcing or a possible cooperation with external partners. Fundamental questions about the use of cloud solutions, make-or-buy scenarios, hybrid solutions for mixed operation in the own data centre or with external service providers, as well as necessary service level agreements are part of the outcome of the sourcing strategy.
Step 5: Requirements for the IT organisation and IT governance within the framework of an IT strategy. Based on the future requirements to support the business processes, it is shown how the IT strategy can be implemented on the basis of the demand/supply model. It is taken into account that all business goals are reflected in the requirements of the IT strategy. Within the framework of IT governance, it is examined whether the relevant requirements of the GDPR, data security and IT security are taken into account in the development of the IT strategy.
The role of the head of IT (CIO) is also defined in the process. In companies with several locations, the question is also clarified as to which services are performed centrally and which IT services are performed decentrally. This is also examined with regard to the support of business applications (e.g. ERP software). Based on a gap analysis, the derived personnel strategy will show whether the employees with the right skills can make the future IT strategy effective.
Step 6: In this step, the implementation of the developed IT strategy begins. The creation of a roadmap starts on the basis of the previous steps 1 to 5 and shows which measures and projects need to be in the pipeline for the next 3-5 years. Based on this roadmap, a rough cost estimate is made. It is checked whether all measures are realistic and financially feasible. With the help of portfolio management, an assessment and prioritisation of upcoming projects is carried out. This ensures that only those projects are realised that offer the company a competitive advantage.
Step 7: In order to successfully implement an IT strategy, it is important to define the success criteria, milestones and KPIs. For this purpose, the OKR methodology is used to define the KPIs. Communication to staff and project participants is aligned and linked to the roadmap, both technically and in terms of time. Measures for supporting and accompanying the employees in change management are worked out and are thus available to the management for the decision on the adoption of the IT strategy.