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FAST: four steps to making the right technological decisions

 

A few weeks ago, our colleague Frederick Dierickx introduced the concept of ‘sourcing strategy’ in his blog post “Take the next step to cloud and innovation”. I’d like to elaborate on this based on my experience with the Strategic Competence Center.

IT: The force that drives change

In his blog post, Frederick mentions that: “When I talk to IT managers and employees, […] one message keeps emerging: We don’t have the time to engage, to be proactive and explore new technologies. We are overworked just keeping our existing environment operational and up-to-date."

It’s a remark that hits home and, unfortunately, a problem many companies have to deal with. I’d like to refer to the book written by professors Weill and Ross in 2009 (IT Savvy), who thoroughly researched the ‘failing IT organisation’ and ‘business/IT alignment’. Both professors concluded that the IT department is best suited to drive change in an organisation. Because the IT service is active across multiple departments, it is constantly in touch with most of the business. If top management does not take responsibility for their IT service, the company throws away large amounts of money on tactical initiatives without ever getting satisfying results. IT becomes a liability instead of a strategic asset.

Know what your company needs from IT

Aligning business and IT is still a touchy subject – there is no magical formula to make it work. However, as an IT organisation, there are certain things you can do to help the process along. It starts with knowing exactly what your company needs from the IT department. Once you know this, you can proceed from strategy to assembling a change project portfolio: a portfolio of all the projects that drive change in your organisation. This is the result of Enterprise IT Architecture and Governance.

But what does this have to do with Frederick’s blog post?

Well, technology is a domain within Enterprise IT Architecture. This means that making relevant technological changes is just as important as driving change within the business or organisation.

4 steps to making the right technological decisions

For Strategic Services, we use the Framework for Assessing the Sourcing of Technology (FAST) to make the right technological decisions in four steps:

  1. Step 1: discover the current organisational issues, strategy, needs and principles. Make a list and assign priority levels to the items on it.
  2. Step 2: map the technological landscape, including the current and desired use of the current technology. This step results in a technological reference model (TRM).
  3. Step 3: combine the previous steps and consolidate all of the information in an enriched Technological Reference Model (eTRM). This model is the baseline for FAST and the resulting roadmap. After step 3, you’ll have a technological portfolio that gives you an overview of your technological debt. You can use it to eliminate waste and technological redundancies. This alone will give you financial space, which can be used by the IT department to create more value for the organisation and its customers.
  4. Step 4: look into outsourcing possibilities and eliminate knowledge that’s linked to a commodity. After that, reinvest in knowledge that matters.

Step 4 is based on Geoffrey Moore’s Context vs. Core model and the famous quote: “Whatever your context, it can be someone else’s core”. Therefore, FAST relies on two pillars:

  1. Mission criticality: the importance of technology to achieve the organisation’s goals.
  2. Organisational differentiation: the amount of differentiation created by the technology compared to competitors.

We feed the information we gathered during Step 1 into FAST. The result is a technological roadmap that’s in line with the organisation’s strategy, creates financial space, lowers the operational burn rate and repurposes human skills.

Do you want to know the status of your company’s technological debt? Would you like to know more about which products you can and should be outsourcing? Contact me for an appointment by e-mailing me at dimitri.aerts@xylos.com.

 

 

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