Attaining alignment is a continuous process: it requires sustained adaptation to the environment, changing nature of business and processes and an increasing maturity of technologies. In fact, managers should see alignment as a dynamic capability (flexibility), which evolves over time and grows more mature as a result of learning-based experiences and path dependence.
For the everyday organization, embarking upon an alignment journey requires them to invest in time, learning, money and resources to build up capabilities in fields like strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, governance, management accounting and so on. Our framework can assist them in growing these capabilities provided that we can keep it simple and down to earth.
24% of all IT projects failed outright, 44% were “challenged”, and only 32% were delivered on time, on budget, and with required features and functions” CHAOS Report 2009
How can organizations assess whether an investment in IT will pay off? How can it be sure that it is making the right decisions? What does it take to move away from the typical cost-based thinking ? What is the right IT-investment strategy for a company if it is not clear what it wants to achieve in the long-run?
An organization decision to invest in an ERP, eCommerce, accounting or contact management system will most likely be driven by operational and tactical concerns. The investment might solve the issue in the short run but will not necessarily create a sustainable competitive advantage in the long run. Within a context of resource constraints, organization tend to behave opportunistically driven by concerns of cost effectiveness rather than any strategic considerations. The Literature on ICT adoption stresses that cost is the single most important affecting ICT use.
However, the decision to spend money on IT must be seen in a broader context: one needs to factor in both the operational concerns and as well as the overarching business strategy. In our approach, we want to go down a different path. Instead of putting the focus on why, we also want to focus on the how. We do not want to end up in a situation where we say: “A good IT strategy is one that supports and enables the execution of the business strategy”. No, we want to provide an alternative where we say” A good IT strategy is one that supports your business strategy and we will show you how you can formulate your strategy and provide you with some easy tools to do it”. Good IT governance is a key determinant for achieving success. But if you don’t know where to focus on, what are best practices in IT governance and what kind of structures, processes and relational mechanisms to put in place… you’re still far from getting there.
We suggest several approaches to alignment including the organisational level, system level, project level and the individual level. However, we feel that, given the operational focus of the average organization, the project and system level offer the best starting point.
There are various reasons why this method might prove to be more effective than taking the more holistic and organisational approach. In a context where there is no dedicated IT manager (or CIO) nor a robust (internal) IT organisation, there is little to align on an organisational level.
Not all business are ready to put structures, processes and relational mechanisms in place for building bridges between the Business and IT function, SME’s often live in a reality where there is little to align on an organisational level. If the SME does work with an internal IT department, then the same underling principles are still applicable. In this case, additional efforts have to be spent in areas like communication, relationships and IT competences.
Selling More Products, To More Customers, More Profitably
It is easy to add channels and make the assumption that sales growth is assured, but channels risk to be added without a clear business purpose. New channels can be aimed at the wrong markets or the wrong customers, can be underinvested or under-resourced, or integrate poorly with other channels.
The intention is to create aligning channels that are consistent, market focused and create sustainable growth.
Dispute Resolution and Mediation
Dispute resolution is at the heart of modern business. Yet modern judicial and arbitral options are slow and cumbersome, and take control away front the very managers who really understand their organisations’ needs. Mediation, which in various forms has been used for centuries in local situations, has become the method of choice in sophisticated jurisdictions in the last decade.
Mediation seeks to find a solution that serves all participants in the process and belongs to them, exposing underlying interests and basing a dialogue on them. A mediator’s task is not to offer or judge a solution; their task is to facilitate the dialogue that leads to such a solution.
The restraint on the use of mediation, however, has been a lack of understanding at and below board level of what it means, and how to use it in a corporate setting; and a shortage of mediators with a strong immersion in regional protocols as well of the relevant business sectors.
The need for a mediator to be neutral, trained, and effective in the context of the dispute means that there is often difficulty in finding the right person.