The Top 5 Blockers to Implementing Your IT Strategy

Implementing an IT strategy is a huge deal. On top of the cash and time involved, there’s the weight of expectation. When things don’t go to plan, that expectation rapidly turns to frustration.

Perhaps the results were underwhelming; it took too long, cost too much. Or the mentality of the users and culture in the organisation got in the way. In the past three-four years, this has given rise to more focus on adoption and consumption.

Now, it’s easy to look back and blame lack of end-user adoption. Maybe a new set of productivity tools was released - such as Office365 - but wasn't used. OneNote remains a blank pad, and OneDrive’s an empty filing cabinet: you get the picture.

But the cause wasn’t lack of adoption – that was the outcome. The cause is something else. It could be any number of reasons. In my experience, there's a small number which have the most impact.

Here, I list the top five obstacles to new technology, and what you can do to avoid them.  

No. 1 Not integrating and managing service providers properly

This is number one for a reason. An efficient SIAM - Service Integration and Management model - is vital in the age of cloud computing. Supplier ecosystems are growing and far more fluid than they used to be.

Building out SLAs and OLAs (operational level agreements) capable of spanning many suppliers - and ensuring they work collaboratively - is a challenge.

Outsourcing SIAM itself has many benefits, especially if the operational relationship with service providers is separated from the commercial one, making the process easier.

Effective contract management is imperative, including:

  • Defining robust acceptance criteria and;  
  • A clear scope of services. 
  • Ensuring the ability to iterate and modernise services is built into the contract.
  • Defining and managing internal dependencies which may impact on the ability of your service providers to deliver.

No. 2 Not engaging end users

This blocker has two parts. Firstly, defining the business processes before applying the technology. The users should input into their requirements and test alpha solutions or proof of concepts. A competent business analyst is core to this.  

The second part is a solid engagement model.  Users should feel they’re invited on a journey, not merely told that a significant change is coming. How will the new system benefit them? How will it improve their working lives?

Goal-orientated change management models such as ADKAR® are immensely valuable in supporting employees throughout the process.

No. 3 Not seeking professional services 

While many organisations appoint service providers to assist with design, delivery and operations, it’s usually to work within parameters already defined by their own management. 

The issue here is that the strategy itself may not be fit-for-purpose or cost efficient. A consultant going from organisation to organisation devising strategies for a living will spot opportunities not obvious to those embedded in the organisation and looking out. 

Also, if the business leaders have been at their organisation for more than four or five years, it’s unlikely they’ll have embarked on a strategy to the scale of the one they’re tasked with creating. So, why not engage someone who has? 

No. 4 Governance 

Where to start on governance? I’ve encountered too much, not enough, and sometimes governance that's just completely ineffective.

Benefit realisation, the sole reason strategies are pursued, is rarely tracked, and certainly not to an adequate level. Success metrics should be:

  • Suitably defined.
  • Regularly re-evaluated for ongoing relevance.
  • Analysed against investment.

Project and programme steering boards are often open discussions. To be effective, they should be leadership reviews for crucial reporting metrics, and approval of decisions and requests.

As for guiding principles, such as those that might reside within Enterprise Architecture, commonly those in the detail of day-to-day delivery are unaware of them.

No. 5 Poor delivery management

Waterfall project management methods are fit-for-purpose, despite the global push for agile methods.

Plans which are broken up and structured iteratively will usually incorporate aspects from both methods. Agile-Waterfall hybrids are becoming far more commonplace.  

Delivery problems usually occur with people following the project management manuals to the letter, with little flexibility. Process for process sake, or egos getting in the way of problem-solving for the greater good are all too common.

A ‘one size fits all approach’ to delivery doesn’t work. For example, the level of reporting and governance for a 25-day project is completely different from 250-day project.

Make practicality over process your mantra.

Conclusion

Did any of these blockers to implementing new tech resonate with you? Engaging professional services will help you avoid them and achieve a successful outcome.  

I understand it can be hard to evidence the immediate ROI for external consultancy. But when you consider the cost of an IT project’s delays or outright failure, it’s an investment you're unlikely to regret.

Our Business Performance team can assist across the board, so contact us if you’d like our help.

Written by Chris Eley