Goals are how we measure success. Strategic objectives are translated into goals and then action plans. See how to set goals to measure progress along the IT Value Journey.
From Strategic Objectives to Goals
We discussed strategic objectives in our previous article. Objectives refer to “what” we want to achieve and are organized into themes of Maintain, Enhance, and Transform to show how we navigate the IT Value Journey.
Now, we will translate each objective into one or more goal, describing how we will measure success. When setting goals, it’s always good to follow the SMART mnemonic – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based. We’ll show some examples throughout this article.
Goals to Support the IT Value Journey
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 will translate each objective into one or more goals. Goals are important for two reasons. First, we manage what we measure. Setting goals provides focus for everyone in the organization. Second, IT gains trust, credibility, and respect by measuring the value we create. Goals tell us exactly what to measure and then set targets for those measures.
Let’s explore goals across the four Balanced Scorecard perspectives and our three themes.
In the Maintain state, our single customer objective is to Deliver High Quality Service at a Competitive Cost. We may, therefore, set a goal of:
- Improve customer satisfaction by 10% while reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) by 5% by the end of Q3
Operationally, we can define goals in the Maintain state that will enable us to achieve our customer objective. Those goals, corresponding to our strategic objectives, may be:
|Maintain a Secure and Reliable Infrastructure
|Reduce time to detect a cyber threat by 20% and time to remediate by 15% by year end
|Meet Service Level Commitments
|Meet or exceed Service Level Agreement (SLA) for 80% of issues by year end
|Improve Quality While Reducing Costs
|Improve data quality by 25% by end of Q3 and another 10% by year end
Would you agree that achieving these goals should delight our customers and build the trust, credibility, and respect they have for IT?
Also note that the processes we implement to achieve these goals will make IT more efficient, freeing resources to navigate into the Enhance state.
In the Enhance state, our customer objective is to Support the Business With Timely Enhancements. A good goal for this objective may be:
- Deliver at least 80% of software and infrastructure updates on time, on scope, and within budget by year end.
Our internal processes goals, aligned with our strategic objectives in the Enhance state may be:
|Partner with Customers to Understand Their Needs
|Each IT leader conduct four interviews per quarter with senior executives and adjust IT priorities accordingly
|Support Business and IT with Effective Governance
|Implement best practice processes for customer service, infrastructure management, and software development by end of Q2
|Deliver Quality Enhancements within Time, Scope, and Budget
|Establish improved quality control procedures by end of Q2 and reduce re-work by 50% by year end
These goals will focus IT on delivering quality enhancements as the business expects. When the rest of the business see IT keeping up with business needs, IT trust, credibility, and respect all improve.
Quarter after quarter, or year after year, we raise the bar on the Maintain and Enhance goals to drive continuous improvement. We measure IT performance and communicate our progress. That’s how IT earns the opportunity to navigate into the Transform state.
Our customer objective in the Transform state is to Drive Business Success with Innovative Solutions. Our goal may be:
- Deliver solutions that contribute $20 million to the bottom line by year end
Our internal process goals in the Transform state, aligned with our three key objectives, might be:
|Research Applicable Technology
|Include an emerging technology update in the weekly IT leadership meeting and have every IT leader propose 3 business-aligned opportunities by Q3
|Align Technology Roadmap and Architecture with Company Vision
|Complete the enterprise architecture by end of Q2 and present the technology roadmap to executive leadership by end of Q2
|Deliver Transformative Solutions
|Prototype new data analytics with executive leadership by end Q1, including a documented business case, and launch an analytics initiative by end Q2
Achieving these goals will demonstrate the contribution of IT toward new, transformative solutions. Later in the Transform state, we may see IT objective and goals regarding development of new products and business units.
While the Customer and Internal Process objectives fall into our three strategic themes, the Organizational (sometimes referred to as Learning and Growth) objectives span across all themes. These are the objectives that provide the people with the training, tools, systems, data, organizational structure, culture, and more that they need to achieve the operational and customer objectives.
Typical organizational objectives and goals may include:
|Attract, Develop, and Retain Key Competencies and Cultural Fit
|All members of IT complete 40 hours of training by year end, with 20 of those related to supporting our culture
|Provide Tools and Techniques that Enhance Capabilities
|Enhance three key elements of the Agile process by end of Q2
|Foster a Business and Customer Focused Culture
|Publish IT metrics to all employees monthly and include discussion of business impact in IT department meetings
These objectives and goals are designed to make IT more effective and more aware of key business priorities and the impact IT has. These goals will evolve year after year with continuous IT improvement.
Achieving these organizational goals should improve the ability of IT to achieve the internal process goals and delight our customers.
We look at our financial objectives in terms of efficiency and effectiveness which, combined, should create shareholder value.
|Maintain and Enhance
|Ensure Budget Discipline
|Adhere to Operating and Capital Budgets through year end
|Reduce the Cost of IT Service
|Reduce the cost of basic IT services by 15% by year end
|Enhance and Transform
|Improve Business Outcomes
|Contribute at least $20 million to the bottom line through IT-intensive initiatives
It should be clear that these financial objectives represent outcomes and are not things that we directly control. It should also be apparent that these outcomes are only possible when we achieve our organizational, process, and customer goals.
Measuring the Value of IT
You can add goals to the IT Strategy Map that was described in detail in or previous article. The result is an IT Goal Map. Together, these show what IT sets out to achieve and how success is to be measured. The IT Goal Map, displaying objectives and goals, enables us to communicate the IT strategy, literally, in a single page!
Now that we’ve described strategic objectives and goals, our next step, and next article, will be to translate them into Action Plans. Action Plans describe specific projects, or initiatives, that we will execute to achieve our goals, and they round out the IT Strategic Planning process.
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.