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IT drives business excellence

Companies are forced to adapt to the many changes that affect their business environment. The globalization of markets, to name but one example, accentuates some of the pressures that companies must face:

  • The complexity of increasing competitiveness in a market that has become global;

  • The speed at which market norms and standards evolve;

  • The difficulty of finding local skilled labour;

  • The increasingly short reaction time to new business opportunities.

The challenge for businesses is to know how to leverage IT to increase their competitiveness.

IT governance, serving business strategy

The company must first identify clear objectives and a strategy to achieve them. This strategic planning exercise is more or less formal depending on the size of the company.

The role of IT governance is to translate these business objectives and strategy into IT investments, track them and monitor their results. The objectives and strategy are inputs to the development of high-level planning for IT initiatives and the project portfolio.

High-level planning of IT initiatives

Developing a high-level plan for the initiatives to be undertaken is one of the tasks of the enterprise architect, who must identify those initiatives that are designed to either increase revenues or reduce operating costs for the business. To do this, the enterprise architect must have an up-to-date global view of the company’s major processes and identify recognized IT standards to optimize and ensure the sustainability of investments in the face of a changing environment.

Tracking and controlling IT initiatives

The project portfolio gathers IT initiatives according to the development phases: design (which results in an opportunity brief), planning (which results in a business case) and execution. These stages enable IT governance to ensure that the scope, cost, and schedule of IT initiatives continue to be aligned with business objectives and strategy.

Throughout the design and planning phases, the business architect‘s role is to translate the initiative into a project and prepare the business and opportunity cases for decision by IT and business governance. The investment decision is based on the analysis performed by the business architect following the project review: contribution to business objectives and strategy, expected benefits and associated risks versus estimated costs.

During the planning phase, the business processes to be implemented or modified are described by the business analyst, who ensures that the new tasks respect the organization’s priorities and the market’s best practices. Finally, the change management specialist will ensure that the project enables the organization’s resources to assume their new tasks and ensures effective communications with stakeholders. These two success factors will ensure the delivery of the expected benefits.

With the help of effort and cost estimates and other project information developed and specified during the design and planning stages, project portfolio management is able to prioritize and allocate the resources needed to start the project.

Implementation phase

The execution of an authorized project relies on a project manager who must coordinate the resources that enable the delivery of the project while ensuring compliance with the allocated scope, budget and schedule using a set of project execution techniques, including the Agile or traditional method.

Measuring results

Sound governance will also establish measures, policies, standards and control mechanisms to delineate and enable stakeholders to play their roles and assume their responsibilities.

"These measures will provide the company with the necessary agility to react promptly to changes in the context and its various investment projects. Governance also allows the organization to identify areas of improvement to be applied to its processes and to gain in maturity."

This approach has enabled ESI’s clients to successfully implement and manage technologies that increase their competitiveness. Based on clearly expressed objectives and strategy, ESI’s strategic consultants identify the most promising IT initiatives and ensure their compliance throughout their lifecycle, from conception to completion. 

By aligning with clients’ IT teams, ESI’s Governance and Business service offering enables organizations to make the most appropriate decisions to increase their competitiveness and adapt with agility to their needs and market requirements and to the evolution of their IT investments and initiatives. It’s one step closer to business excellence.

Bernard Plante
Strategic Consultant – ESI Technologies