Leadership

Creating an IT strategy: Presenting to the executive team

This is part 2 in how to create your IT strategy. In this part, Jay Rollins talks about how to present IT information to the executive team.

This is part 2 in how to create your IT strategy. In this part, Jay Rollins talks about how to present IT information to the executive team.

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Now that you have captured all the information you need to make some strategic changes to the IT organization, its goals, and how the group will help the business achieve its goals, you need to present this to your executive team at a high level. Regardless of the level,  all of your points must be backed up by numbers, data, and attributed facts.  As an outline, your final presentation to the management team should cover a few things:

1.  What is the perception of IT and how do you plan on changing it?

2. What are the general themes you found during the feedback gathering process mentioned in the previous installment of this post. What is working and what is not?

3. What are the goals of the company? You should be able to get detailed department goals as well as the overall vision. These should be in objective form. The company plans to increase sales by 30%. Here is how marketing plans to contribute to that goal. Here is how sales will contribute, etc. Finally, here is how IT will help these departments achieve their goals. Be specific. This will help management understand what IT needs to undertake to move these goals forward. Then it will be much easier to get capital projects funded and resources hired/contracted.

4. What key processes will IT implement that

  • Solve the root cause problems outlined in the general themes
  • Address root cause for ensuring projects are completed on time
  • IT's plans to prioritize projects to accomplish goals. (Note: high level estimates can be presented here regarding time and resources)

5. What does the IT organization need to look like in order to accomplish these goals? Detail about roles and responsibilities will be needed, but be sure to address how these changes address root cause issues.

6. Innovation. What will IT do on its own to help move the company forward? R&D initiatives are possibilities here. Highlight industry trends and information visibility needs. Make educated assumptions as to where the industry is going and how IT can help the company get ahead of these trends. This is a tricky one. Here's where you put it on the line. You analyzed trends and determined which ones will work and which ones won't and why. If you get buy in, great. If you didn't do your homework you will have a credibility issue you will need to deal with. Your political life at the company depends on this, so be aggressive, but make sure you have vetted these ideas during your one-on-ones with the executive team. These one-on-ones prior to presenting your plan is a great educational process. You'll find out what's off limits and what got the team excited. If something is off-limits because it impacts an executives comfort zone, beware. If it doesn't have huge upside potential, then wait until next year when you have more experience in the company. If it does, a private audience with the CEO may be warranted, but tread carefully.

7. IT operations. How will IT maintain the current infrastructure and why it is important. Highlight system candidates that need to be replaced because of the costs/supportability/maintainability/security/flexibility/etc. Identify what you found as important and what is not. Present service level changes and why they need to change. Identify support processes for remote offices/workers, etc.

8. IT Budget. Here we go... Now that you have made all of these potential changes, what's this going to cost? Try to move new projects into a new capital budgeting process, but be detailed in the operating budget. IT organization costs. Maintenance costs. Getting legal license costs. New infrastructure maintenance costs. Be sure to anticipate pushback and be able to apply budgetary changes on the fly during your presentation. This demonstrates that you have done your homework. Budget is where you will get the most conversation in your presentation so have back up data and fact attribution at the ready.

That's a lot of information for a presentation and you'll likely get eyes glazing over during parts of it. This is where presentation skills come in. No help in this blog for that.

So let's look at what you have achieved once this is approved:

1. You can begin IT organization changes

2. You have the go ahead to make process changes

3.  You have demonstrated your knowledge as to how the business works and what is important

4. You have addressed the major concerns by the executive team about IT

5. You have a ton of work ahead of you, but you have the sympathy and the support of the executive team.

6. You have a detailed vision as to what needs to be done and how, so as decisions come up you can quickly react to issues and prioritize. You know what domino must fall before the others can. Decisiveness now becomes much easier.

7. You have estimated timelines as to when you are going to accomplish these goals and tasks.

This is daunting I know. I have lived it several times. But you are not in this alone. The executive team now understands their role. Hold monthly meetings to present where you are and over communicate. Continue one-on-ones as well.

So there it is. One suggestion is to have a good director of IT operations to handle the day-to-day issues so you can concentrate on getting everything in place. One process that will help here is establishing a Program Management Office (PMO). I'll address this in the next post, but this is a key process. After that I'll address IT organization change.

I hope this helps. If you don't think you can do this, get a good consultant. Beware of big four firms with their own methodologies. Understand these methodologies and take from them what is useful, but remember... you are an SMB. Big company strategies do not always apply, The key is getting things implemented quickly. Shoot for less than one year to get the organization, infrastructure and key processes in place to make the project execution seamless. The executive team may want you to start projects sooner than you should. Know that these steps will allow you to get these projects done quickly. Without these things in place, the projects will end up taking longer and costing more than anyone has anticipated and just like that your credibility is shot.

3 comments
reisen55
reisen55

INDIA OUTSOURCING oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh that gets the attention of American management every time. Just mention those cheaper salaries and no health care bennies required. And it can all be done cheaper,faster,better (which is really one word). Don't bother with details, just say INDIA and even be more specific, BANGALORE and they will approve it every time. And send American IT workers to hell.

Semiotic
Semiotic

Sorry about the broken link above, the comments are not filtered for quotation marks ;-) --------------------------- There is no such thing as a free lunch... Beware of cultural differences when using Indian outsourcing. 'Yes' in a western context means 'yes I will deliver'. 'Yes' in an Indian context often means 'yes I understand what you are asking'. I have been burn't several times through non-delivery or incorrect functionality and will be directing any outsourcing cautiously to Brazil instead in future. Brazil are mainly Java and open source focused though, they tend to shy away from Microsoft's products.

Semiotic
Semiotic

There is no such thing as a free lunch... Beware of cultural differences when using Indian outsourcing. "Yes" in a western context means "yes I will deliver". Yes in an Indian context often means "yes I understand what you are asking". I have been burn't several times through non-delivery or incorrect functionality and will be directing any outsourcing cautiously to Brazil instead in future. Brazil are mainly Java and open source focused though, they tend to shy away from Microsoft's products.