One can find many analogies between the 19th century pirate’s novel Westward Ho! and today’s digital business adventure; the quest to conquer a new (digital) world, a perilous (high risk) passage, foes (the competition) around every corner, the damsel (customer) in distress who needs to be saved and then delighted, and historical behemoths (industry giants) weighing in. Yet there are two significant differences between then and now. Whereas in the Elizabethan era the pace was most certainly slower (the heavy clothing alone probably caused many an explorer to miss his ship) and exploration was a hit-or-miss undertaking, in today’s digital age there is no room for error and no time for dawdling. Your strategy needs to be spot on, your plan to get there flawless and your speed unhindered. But there are so many factors and stakeholders to consider, let alone coordinate - legacy systems, new technologies, department policies, regulatory mandates, management ambitions and resource constraints – that setting the course for your digital journey seems to be an impossible mission.
But it is possible - with the right methodology, suitable tools, immediate access to relevant information and collaboration and communication across the organization. The methodology should be front-loaded with every type of evaluation needed to reliably vet and compare alternative strategies. What are the financial constraints and resource limitations? What demand is already committed to? What is the organization’s appetite for change? What is the state of the current architecture and how big is the effort to move to the required target architecture? Getting these questions answered in the beginning saves a lot of heartbreak down the road, when organizations often realize they didn’t do their due diligence and need to change course.
An indispensable tool to have in your armory is the business capability map, as it will tell you where to start and how to move forward. By applying KPIs such as digital differentiation capacity, digital affinity, and state of digitalization to the business capabilities, you can see which capabilities need to be invested in more heavily and which capabilities are taking up needless amounts of budget attention. This is your plank – or springboard - into charting your course of project investment.
An IT portfolio management tool such as Software AG’s Alfabet provides exactly this type of platform for strategic planning, as well as for all of the successive activities required for transforming the IT landscape for digital business. It captures and provides deep and broad insight into the organization’s enterprise architecture to inform decisions early on in strategy determination and on through to project planning so that potential conflicts are identified early on. Even if a changing business environment forces you to change course, this can be done with the confidence that you have all the information you need to make sound decisions.
Consider this statement from an Alfabet user:
“We establish more strategic goals in our organization because we’re now less risk averse about projects. Alfabet continuously tells us if our IT landscape is compliant with our goals. We get more compliant, we mitigate risk and we become comfortable taking on more projects, both those for strategic initiatives and cost reduction.”
So, fellow swashbucklers, use IT portfolio management to be bold with your digital strategy, go boldly where no competitor has gone before. We are currently running a series of webcasts – the Alfabet Portfolio Playbooks - that demonstrate how IT portfolio management can be used for successful transformation into a digital enterprise. Our first “Setting the Course for your Digital Journey” is ready for you to watch. You can register for our next portfolio management and arrr-chitecture webcast “Accelerating digital delivery with bimodal” here.