September 23, 2008, 3:54 PM — Businesses regularly take on projects because someone in the firm thinks it is a good idea. Iâ€™m confident many of you have managers who have walked into your office or given you a call to say, "We need to do XYZ." I know this happens because it happened to me way too often when I was working in the telecom industry. There is no discussion or even a hint of a thread of connectivity as to how this new initiative fits into the larger corporate e-Business strategy. The worst part is that you know they read about the idea in some business journal and bought into the example case study referenced in the article.
The fundamental problem with this method of running a company is that it usurps the firm's larger strategy. Situation analysis and visioning will put an end to superfluous projects.
The next time your boss tries to fill your time with a project that doesn't support the bigger e-Business readiness strategy, ask a few of these questions:
- Who are the executive sponsors on this project?
- How is this project being funded?
- What other project should I stop working on to be able to support this project effectively?
- What is the timeline for this project?
- Has a project plan been developed? May I see it?
- Who is the project manager?
- Could you show me how this project fits into our overall e-Business strategy?
The goal of the questions is not to aggravate your manager. The goal is to get everyone in the company on-board with moving the firm toward its objective of becoming an e-Business. It is very easy to get distracted when you are not responsible for executing the big picture. However, that picture is made up of a great deal of individual elements. As an element within the whole, your activities can either expedite or delay the firm's e-Business readiness.
When looking at a new initiative, I cannot overstate the necessity for pre-implementation analysis and visioning. Situation analysis provides you with information on where the company wants to go and how it is going to get there. Visioning depicts how you want the firm to be in the future. Situation analysis looks at the initiative relative to internal and external market factors. The analysis will identify opportunities and help to prioritize them based on the following key criteria:
- Concentrate on the top few factors that will have the greatest impact on your organization.
- Look for short term drivers of change such as globalization, technical shifts, and potential shortages of key resources.
- Identify factors that might pose an opportunity for you but not for your competitors.Â Situation analysis is a good source for identifying competitive advantages.
Visioning assists in aligning IT initiatives with the firm. If you know where the firm wants to be in two years, then you can quickly determine if the initiative is in alignment with achieving the company vision. Visioning guides the organization in reaching its future goals. Two years is a good time line because it allows the company to consider innovative new approaches, but is close enough to promote immediacy and action. The visioning process clearly defines the expected outcomes and the measurable metrics used to determine when the vision has been achieved. A firm with a clear, frequently communicated vision supports each department and team throughout the company in establishing how to optimize their time and resources.