In this week’s ‘How to IT Strategy’ Newsletter we will discuss techniques that you can use to help you think about your team’s capabilities so that you are clear on areas of deficiency or gaps that will need to be addressed in order to successfully implement your IT Strategy.
From my own experience I have seen sound IT Strategies fail to be successfully executed due to unaddressed deficiencies in key skills and capability areas, sometimes these deficiencies can be complete gaps, or just lack of skills/experience.
As with all analysis that forms part of creating your IT Strategy, how much time you can devote to thinking about your team’s capabilities will be influenced by your resource and time constraints, so we’ll talk about a couple of different pragmatic ways you can achieve the desired outcome with different levels of effort/time.
The “shortcut” involves bringing together your management team and going through the following process:
- Review what you’ve come up with in your draft strategy so far and identify the key capabilities in your team that are essential for the strategy to be successfully executed and therefore need to be addressed as part of your strategy, add these to a list
- You and your management team should also be aware of the big problem areas within your team(s), add these to the list
- What team capabilities are ones your key stakeholders often complain about? add these to the list
- Spend an additional 15 minutes brainstorming the key capabilities of your IT team and adding them to the list
- Once you have your list create a simple matrix in which you can plot areas that are a) fine, b) gaps c) need to be addressed in order to deliver your draft strategy d) need to be addressed over a longer time period
The slightly less short Shortcut
A slightly more involved option, which can produce good results is to use an existing framework to help frame your thinking around team skills. SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) is a good example. SFIA provides a framework of professional skills on one axis and 7 levels of responsibility on the other and by doing so describes professional skills at various levels of competence.
SFIA breaks down a teams capabilities in to categories and sub-categories, the high level categories being:
- Strategy and Architecture
- Change and Transformation
- Development and Implementation
- Delivery and Operation
- Skills and Quality
- Relationships and Engagement
Depending on your time and resource constraints I’d suggest, if you do use SFIA for assessing your team(s) that you can undertake a useful exercise assessing your team against just the top 2 categories and that the resulting analysis would be ‘good enough’ to inform your thinking about team skills, without having to dig into the 3rd level of categories which would exponentially increase the time/effort required to analyse.
A framework like SFIA gives you a great, structured way to think about your team’s skills and their skill level and where you might need to focus effort or investment in order to achieve your strategy.
The Longcut (That’s actually a shortcut)
Assessing and monitoring team capabilities and skill levels is ideally not something that should be reserved for when you are working on a IT Strategy. Having this view of your team(s) in place as a BAU activity takes some ongoing effort, but means its v easy to build the assessment into your IT Strategy when it is time to create or refresh your strategy.
In this Newsletter we discussed ways we can assess our team’s capabilities in the context of our developing IT Strategy so we give minimise the chance of the strategy execution being hamstrung by a lack of capability within the team and give ourselves the best chance possible of successfully executing the strategy.
Newsletter, Podcast and Course
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If you want to learn more about how to create great IT Strategies then please sign up at howtoitstrategy.com for early access to my upcoming course.