Most technology companies have it wrong when it comes to their strategy.
It’s a sweeping statement, but this is my thinking.
There are numerous methods and models for developing a top-level strategy for a business.
These are what I look for:
- A vision: where we want to be in the future (longer term);
- A mission: where we’re currently heading (shorter term);
- Objectives: ideally SMART, applied to the key areas of the organisation, and forward looking (maybe 3 years or so), and;
- A strategy: a plan of how you’re going to meet those objectives
Once you have these in place, you can identify Critical Success Factors (CSFs) i.e. those things necessary for the accomplishment of your strategy.
There are two sorts of CSFs usually recognised:
- Those that are required to survive in your market (e.g. SLAs), and;
- Those that put you out in front of your competition (e.g. fantastic levels of customer service).
When you’ve recognised your CSFs, you can define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) i.e. those things you can measure and monitor to ensure you’re operationally on target for achieving your CSFs and, in due course, your corporate objectives.
There’s a clear top-down flow: vision -> objectives -> CSFs -> KPIs.
There’s also a parallel flow in the activities performed: your mission -> strategy -> tactics -> operations.
Put another way:
- Your operations contribute to achieving your KPIs;
- Your tactics contribute to achieving your CSFs;
- Your strategy contributes to achieving your objectives;
- Your mission contributes to achieving your vision.
Hopefully, I’ve not overly complicated this, but, in essence, I’m claiming that there should be a clear connection between your company vision and your operations.
Sadly, you might see a Service Desk with hundreds of widgets, reports and dashboards; hundreds of numbers to watch.
Usually, those who’re responsible for operations aren’t sure why meeting targets makes a difference to success. Performance measures are a source of stress and burnout.
As a manager or director, it’s worth reviewing what you measure, then stripping back to bare bones, working back down from your vision, mission, objectives and your strategy.
This is where many technology businesses fall on their faces; the connection from vision to operational performance simply isn’t there.
Even worse, meeting indiscriminate operation targets will dictate CSFs, objectives, and even company vision.
The resulting behaviour is great for achieving the “right numbers” but not for organisational success.
This behaviour usually indicates poor top-down communication within a business, and tends to reflect a culture in Operations where an opportunity for improvement is sacrificed for an easier life.