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What is Your IT Organization’s Strategic Maturity Score?

As a CIO do you have a method to measure the effectiveness of your IT organization’s ability to work as part of a business team? Is your IT organization viewed as a strategic partner or as the department to call when a computers fails or a business application goes awry? You might want to seriously begin thinking about this if you want to keep your job. Your Challenge In today’s fast paced marketplace information technology is found in almost every products and services your company produces across the entire value chain. As a result, IT personnel are pulled into more business discussions than ever before. To be effective they need to think and speak the language of the business. Can you objectively answer the following three questions for the IT personnel that interact with the business: -Do they understand how the business operates? -Can they articulate the competitive environment the business competes in? -Are they aware of the emerging technologies that can mitigate business challenges? -Do your IT leaders have the leadership and communication capability necessary to succeed? If you can’t answer these questions I guarantee that your C-level peers will and, may in fact, incorrectly conclude that your IT organization is not mature enough to succeed in today’s fast paced environment. And if that happens they may even be interviewing your successor. So you need to be ahead of the curve on this issue. Let’s explore a process that enables you to measure your IT organization’s strategic maturity score and its implication in your future success. IT Organization Strategic Competencies Today’s strategic IT organizations excel in the following four competencies listed below and expressed in the accompanying graphic

  • Business Knowledge
  • Market Knowledge
  • Technology Prowess
  • Cross Dimensional Capabilities

In a previous AITS column I explored these competencies and associated skills in more detail (Targeting Key Competencies Every CIO Must Have /http://aits.compaid.com/Blog/tabid/1450/ArticleId/4470/Targeting-Key-Competencies-Every-CIO-Must-Have.aspx). What I did not discuss was the process you can use to measure the effectiveness of each competency with. I will address that now. Measuring Your IT Organization Strategic Maturity Score An assessment of your IT organization’s maturity level for the four strategic IT competencies and associated skills will provide you with an indicator of its strategic capability. The higher the score the greater the maturity of your IT organization’s strategic capability. The more mature your IT personnel are in each of these competencies the more effective they will be in successfully working as a member of a business team focused on achieve business outcomes. Below is the assessment framework for measuring your IT organization’s strategic maturity level followed by an explanation of how you complete the actual assessment template.

How to complete the assessment template for each strategic maturity and associated skills:

  1. Each competency is comprised of three skills. Each skill is expressed as a best practice.
  2. The degree to which your IT organization exhibits this best practice determines its maturity for the associated skill.
  3. For each skill read the best practice and assign a score, on a low to high scale of 1-5, indicating how your IT organization’s performance compares to the best practice.
  4. If your organization exhibits a high degree of fit for the skill you would score a 5. As an example, If your organization’s score for each of the three associated best practice skills is 5 then your SUB-TOTAL FOR THE COMPETENCY is 15 (3 x 5 = 15).
  5. You can express the maturity score as a percentage(MATURITY %) for each competency by dividing the maturity score by 15, the maximum maturity score for each competency. For example, if your IT organization’s maturity score for Business Knowledge is 12 (adding the scores for each of the three questions) then your maturity percentage for this competency is 80% (12 divided by 15).
  6. 6. Provide an example for each competency, in a sentence or two, of how your organization exhibits these skills based upon the score (EXAMPLES OF HOW MY IT ORGANIZATION APPLIES BEST PRACTICE).
  7. After you complete scoring the skills associated with each of the four competencies you can summarize your scores for each competency and calculate the total maturity score for all four competencies as well as the maturity percentage.
  8. You can also assess at various department or sub-team levels within your IT organization to determine if there are strategic maturity gaps.
  9. When you have completed the assessment(s) spend some time to review the results with you key IT leaders and make any adjustments necessary.
  10. Analyze your IT organization’s strategic maturity, based upon the scores, to determine the necessary mitigating actions you can implement to improve the overall strategic capability of your IT organization.

Following is a brief description for each competency and the associated template you can use to determine your IT organization’s Strategic Maturity Score for each competency. Business Knowledge Business Knowledge is all about developing an awareness of the company business environment. For IT to be a strategic partner to the business it needs to have a solid knowledgebase of the company’s business environment. Otherwise IT cannot effectively communicate and partner with the business to address company objectives. The three skill areas of this domain are: Business Environment; Opportunities / Challenges; and Process Centricity.

Market Knowledge Market Knowledge provides the IT organization with a keen understanding of the market and competitive environment the company operates in. A good understanding of these components enable the IT organization to identify the “customer value points” across the business value chain. The three skill areas of this domain are: Product Knowledge; Industry Insight; and Competitive Landscape.

Technology Prowess Knowledge

Technology Prowess addresses the strategic technology skills required by the IT organization to leverage and align information technology solutions to the needs of the business. Remember the times you have left your home and five minutes later ask yourself, “Did I close the garage door?” Well, now you can use your Craftsman remote control that allows you to monitor and operate your garage door from anywhere with your internet enabled smartphone, cell phone, laptop, or tablet. You can check status, close the garage door if you’ve left it open, or even open it for friends or deliveries when you aren’t home.

Cross Dimensional Competencies Most important in succeeding as a strategic CIO is the ability to articulate a vision for how information technology can be used to enable business outcomes. Additionally, the strategic CIO needs to posses the leadership and communication skills that enable the successful partnership with C-level executives in developing and implementing business strategies enabled by information technology.

Overall Strategic Maturity of your IT Organization Below is a summary section where you can insert the total score for each of the four competencies. You add up the score for the four competencies to determine your overall total score as well as maturity percentage for your IT organization.

<img alt=”” width=”493″ height=”245″ title=”Competencies and associated skills6″ class=”aligncenter wp-image-10450″ src=”http://www.aits.org/images/uploads/2012/10/Competencies-and-associated-skills6.jpg” />

Summary Calculating the maturity level of your strategic IT organization is a necessary first step in determining how you move up the strategic curve. An analysis of your scores for each competency will indicate the specific areas where you need to focus in order to improve the strategic capabilities of your IT organization. I’d like to hear your thoughts, how your organization scored, and your plan to do to try and improve your IT organization’s strategic maturity score. I can be reached at pweinzimer@strategere.com Note: The process I’ve described here is a basic method for calculating your IT organization’s strategic maturity score. There are variations, through weighting and other techniques, that would result in a more precise representation of your organizations maturity score. These will be discussed in my upcoming book, The Strategic CIO: Changing the Dynamics of the Business Enterprise.

Phil Weinzimer is president of Strategere Consulting working with clients to develop business and IT strategies that focus on achieving business outcomes. Previously Mr. Weinzimer was Managing Principal-Professional Services for IT Business Management at BMC Software. He has also held Managing Principal positions in the Professional Services organizations for ITM Software, CAI, and Sapient. Mr. Weinzimer has written a book concerning customer value entitled “Getting IT Right: Creating Customer Value for Market Leadership” and has a forthcoming book, “The Strategic CIO: Creating Customer Value, Increasing Revenue, Enhancing Shareholder Wealth”, will be available in 2013. Mr. Weinzimer can be contacted at pweinzimer@strategere.com

About Phil Weinzimer

Author and president of Strategere Consulting working with clients to develop business and IT strategies that focus on achieving business outcomes.

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