Action Plans describe what we will do to achieve our goals and meet our objectives. They are the projects, or initiatives, that we execute to navigate the IT Value Journey.
From Strategic Objectives to Goals to Action Plans
We discussed strategic objectives and goals in our previous articles. Objectives refer to “what” we want to achieve and goals are the measures of success.
Now, we will explain how to create action plans that will enable us to reach our goals and achieve our objectives.
We defined our IT Strategic Objectives within the framework of the IT Value Journey and organized them into the themes of Maintain, Enhance, and Transform. Within each theme, we described objectives to delight our customers and improve processes. We also defined learning and growth objectives that span the themes, and financial objectives that describe the outcomes we expect.
We then translated each objective into one or more goal. Goals tell us exactly what to measure and then set targets for those measures.
For each goal, we will define one or more action plan that describes how we will meet that goal.
From the Strategy Map to a Balanced Scorecard
We built a strategy map that summarizes our strategic objectives across the four Balanced Scorecard perspectives, and we divided those objectives into three themes based on the IT Value Journey.
We then created a Goal Map, assigning one or more goal to each objective and started building our Balanced Scorecard.
We will complete our Balanced Scorecard by separating the goals into their measures and targets, and then adding action plans. We’ll show a few examples, for the purpose of this article, rather than building the entire scorecard.
Action Plans in the Maintain State
In the Internal Process perspective of the Maintain state, we specified three strategic objectives and one goal for each. Now we can add the action plans.
You will extend this Balanced Scorecard table to include action plans for all objectives and goals.
Cause and Effect
Scrutinize your action plans to verify that they will, indeed, enable you to meet your goals and achieve your objectives. That’s the cause and effect relationship. If you don’t have confidence in the action plans, then you either need more actions or you may need to rethink the goals.
Strategic planning requires a top-down and bottom-up approach. We define objectives, goals, and actions in a top-down fashion. Then, we test the cause and effect from the bottom up.
Engage Your Team
Your IT Leadership Team should define the strategic objectives in alignment with the overall business objectives. I recommend bringing in the next layer of IT management to work with leadership to define the goals. You’ll get much more realistic goals by doing that.
Share the objectives and goals with as many members of the IT team as is practical and include those people in the action planning. These are the folks that do the work every day. They understand the IT environment at a level of detail that leadership probably does not. They know what’s really going on. Show them “what” you want to achieve and trust them to tell you “how” to make it happen.
In 20+ years of IT leadership and IT and corporate strategic planning, I have never had a case in which I wasn’t pleasantly surprised (ok, shocked) by the innovative solutions emanating from the rank and file. Engage and trust your team.
From Strategy to Execution
These past few articles explained the IT Strategic Planning process. But this series is about IT Strategy Management – the marriage of strategy and execution.
The next articles will describe how to achieve consistent, transparent execution of your strategy. And that earns IT the trust, credibility, and respect to navigate along the IT Value Journey.
As always, if you want to know more, or just can’t wait for the next articles, email Emily at Emily@WolffStrategy.com and she’ll be happy to schedule a call with me.
Larry Wolff is the founder & CEO of Wolff Strategy Partners, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Enterprise Strategy Management and Digital Transformation. Larry has served as CEO, COO, CIO, chief digital officer, and management consultant for public, private, international and emerging growth companies. His specialties include corporate and IT strategic planning, technology led business transformation, business and IT turnarounds, merger integration and large-scale project rescues.