The purpose of this multicompany benchmarking study was to discover and examine best practices in aligning information technology with business strategy. As is discussed in the methodology section, three organizations were chosen for their best practices in this area, and their processes and practices form the heart of this report. Benchmarking best practices can be a tricky subject. For one, the term “best practice is often misleading. This report does not claim to have identified the top organizations in the world that have aligned their IT functions with business strategy. Instead, these organizations should be considered best practice because they have done the best with the tools they have. The organizations involved in this benchmarking project, both those sponsoring the research and those participating as best-practice “partners,” understand and emphasize that aligning information technology with business strategies is a difficult and time-consuming process. Therefore, what may be considered best practice for one company may be a not-so-good idea for another. Organizations that will get the most out of this report will not look for the one silver bullet to cure all of their ills. Instead, the insights gleaned throughout the project should be used as a starting point to get “out of the box” and truly understand the change management process. With a number of top-notch firms participating in this research project, there is certainly no dearth of ideas to consider. This is where benchmarking best practices will provide the greatest benefit to the user.
The Aligning Information Technology with Corporate Strategy benchmarking
study began in December 1998 and was based upon the following study scope.
Focus Area I: Aligning IT with the Planning Process. An organization’s strategic plan all too often is developed independent of the
information technology function, and the results are passed on to a partially informed IT planning team. Today, best-in-class organizations involve IT senior executives from the start. This shift ensures that IT investments are made only where they have the greatest impact on business results. At these organizations, IT personnel understand business drivers, and business executives rely on IT to execute business strategies. Both look at the IT strategy as a corporatewide business endeavor. This study sought to uncover how best-practice organizations:
- organize the IT function to support the organization’s structure
- determine where information technology can be used to create a competitive
- collaborate with IT during the strategic planning process
- decide when and how IT should influence or drive business processes
- create a budget for information technology investment
- ensure that the IT portfolio remains dynamic and flexible to meet changing
business needs and
- staff the IT function to create a responsive, client-focused model.