I was asked the other day about creating a technology strategy, and how to ensure it’s something that the rest of the organisation cares about. By default, the non-technologists in an organisation will look to the technology function for basic delivery of products and features. They’re often less interested in the long term architectural evolution.
But I have been in a few places where non-technologists are keenly interested in understanding the long term technology plan and strategy, and keenly interested in progress. There are one or two patterns that are common here, but they’re actually the same thing seen from different points of view.
I remember sitting in a meeting at one large organisation where a deeply techie enterprise architect presented a five year architectural strategy to a project group whose project was due to end in much less than five years. I was struck by the interest shown by the Project Director, and the very particular questions he asked. I realised the Project Director understood that this technology strategy was about making the organisation more effective, and future projects more impactful. The director recognised the value of the strategy to the organisation as a whole.
Another pattern I’ve seen is when the technology team develops their strategy directly from, and specifically for, the business strategy. This is the technology team saying, “You want to achieve that thing with the business? Here’s how we’re going to be an essential part of that.” This is not just the team trying to show they’re relevant, it’s the team taking their essential responsibility to advance the business through its chosen strategy. It ensures the technology function is properly integrated with the rest of the organisation. Any other function which is similarly advancing the business strategy should find it aligns with the technology function, too, because they are aiming for the same higher level goal.
These patterns are two sides of the same coin. In the first, the Project Director recognised the technology strategy was important to the future of the organisation. In the second, the technology function is making sure that is the case.
In the end a technology strategy must show its relevance to the organisation’s top level strategy. The more people see that, the better. And of course it’s the responsibility of the technology function to generate that understanding.