Strategic Planning Notes

Strategic Planning Notes
Strategic Planning
? Strategy is the action that allows realization of long-term vision and goals
? Planning is a process that attempts to coordinate the deployment of resources over time
? Planning horizon is a key differentiation between strategic, tactical, and operational planning
Role of Network Services in Strategic Planning
? For some organizations, network technology will be central to the core mission
? Network equipment or services company
? Common carrier or isp
Organization focusing on network-based deliver of products and services
? For some organizations, network technology will be a utility service
? The number of organizations for which networking is strategic is increasing
Corporate strategic planning was popularized in the 1960s
? Outgrowth of Frederick Taylor?s Scientific Management
? The goal is to find the one best strategy
? Profession of strategic planner assumes that planning can be coordinated independent of content
? Assumes that the thorough analysis of hard data leads to insights
? The planning process is highly structured
Classical strategic planning has not been as successful as originally envisioned
? It ignores the central role of vision
? It is too analytical and formalized
? The structured process often results in the exclusion of important players
? It is based on principles of statistical forecasting that are often unreliable
? It is based on ?hard? data and ignores ?soft? data that is difficult to quantify
? strategic planning, strategic thinking, and strategy making are not synonymous
Information Technology Planning: Is it strategic?
? IT is increasingly a key competitive differentiator
? IT touches everyone within an organization in some fashion (i.e., everyone is a stake holder)
? IT projects are often extremely complex
? IT projects require dedication of immense resources
Perspective A: Strategic IT Planning is Essential
? Need to link IT strategy to organizational strategy
? Corporate goals are increasingly tied to IT
? Inadequate consideration of IT can doom projects
? Need to make rational resource allocation decisions
? Lack of skilled staff requires establishment of planning priorities
? Rapid technology change requires inclusive approach to planning
? Need to integrate systems requires planning and coordination
Perspective B: Strategic IT Planning is largely a Waste of Time
? Strategic IT planning is a resource drain and takes too much time
? Strategic IT planning leads to lowest-common denominator solutions resulting from political compromise
? Strategic IT planning often leads to increased centralization because efficiency is often valued highly
? Strategic planning processes make it difficult to adapt to new technologies
? It is impossible to involve the most important people because they are too busy doing ?essential? work
Tactical Planning
? Tactical planning deals primarily with the implementation phase of the planning process
? Tactical planning turns strategy into reality
? Tactical planning usually has a 1-2 year time horizon
? Tactical planning is usually tightly integrated with the annual budget process
Elements of tactical planning
? Project plans and RFCs
? Project budgets
? Project reviews
? Monthly reports
? Annual reports
Project plans
? Project planning requires consideration of many issues
? Existing environment
? User needs
? Available expertise
? Alternative solutions
? Budget and time constraints
? Support issues
? Project teams are generally assembled to address these issues
Project teams and RFC?s
? rfc: Request for Comments
? The rfc serves two primary functions
? It provides a framework to direct activities of the project team
? It acts as a vehicle for gathering input and providing information to stakeholders outside the project team
? Development of an rfc will likely require research and consultation with vendors (including possibly a formal request for information)
? The rfc may result in consensus decisions but it does not guarantee that outcome if the alternative implementation options are many and the preferable solution not so obvious
? Serves as a resource for an rfp
Structure of an rfc
? Executive summary
? Statement of overall goal
? Summary of existing environment
? Outline of technical issues, possibly including a technology primer
? Evaluation of tactical alternatives
? Evaluation of existing vendor offerings
? If possible (i.e., a reasonable consensus exists within the project team) a proposed course of action, including timeframe and budget
Implementation Plan
? The rfc may serve as a framework for an implementation plan
? More detailed implementation planning is often required
? Use of project management software is desireable
? Use of regularized reporting via electronic and face-to-face meetings is usually required
? For information updates, electronic updates are most efficient; when issues need to be resolved, a meeting is usually more effective
Annual Reports
? An annual report plays an important role in tactical planning
? Provides a summary of the mission and goals of the organization
? Reviews accomplishments based on project goals outlined in previous year?s report
? Proposes changes in project direction or organization
? Outlines project goals for the coming year
? Should be keyed into the annual capital and operating budget plans
Monthly reports
? Help project managers to organize tasks and monitor progress
? Should be part of the normal work process and not busy work
? Each project should be given a project number
? Monthly summary should include overview of work accomplished in previous month
? Monthly summary should note any slippage in implementation target date
? Monthly summary should note any outstanding issues that require management attention
Operational Planning
? Deals with the day-to-day and week-to-week work routine
? Focus is on routine operational tasks and long-term projects
? Primary goal is to communicate
? In many organizations, people are asked to do both
? Weekly meetings are often used to coordinate efforts and review progress
? Weekly or monthly summaries are often used to inform others
? The structure of operational planning is closely related to organizational structure
? In a traditional hierarchical organization (i.e., unix team, network engineering team), team leaders usually assemble with a senior manager on a regular basis to share information
? Additional periodic meetings are often required to coordinate efforts with other units (i.e., the systems group should meet with the user services group on a regular basis)
? In a process-oriented organization, teams are more ad-hoc in nature, so a mechanism must be put in place to insure communication
Electronic versus face-to-face ?meetings?
? Both means of communication should be used
? Sometimes, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction
? The worst face-to-face meetings are those where everyone simply makes announcements and disseminates information (that can be accomplished more effectively electronically)
? Periodic summaries should be distributed outside the team

Strategic Planning Notes 8.6 of 10 on the basis of 3553 Review.