Gartner EA: Strategic Planning Tools and Techniques

Presenter: Richard Buchanan

The first topic Richard is covering is the need for enterprise architects to master strategic thinking. His current slide is consistent with an earlier talk today, showing that enterprise strategy is at the intersection of three disciplines: Enterprise Strategy and Planning, Enterprise Architecture, and Enterprise Portfolio Management. He states that enterprise architecture must translate business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change. He’s discussing how a budget and the organization chart are not part of the business strategy, pointing out that a budget should be a downstream deliverable derived from the business strategy. Great point. His definition of strategy includes an organization’s environment, goals, objectives, major programs of action, and the resource allocation choices to execute them.

The next topic he is covering are the categories of tools and techniques that are used in developing a business strategy. These are not software tools, as the first one he’s showing is Porter’s 5 Forces Model (this is second time Michael Porter has been referenced at the Summit). He’s challenging us to go and find the people in our organization that are looking at these things. Good advice. There’s no doubt that if you want to do strategic planning, you need to be looking at these five forces, and there’s a good chance that someone at the company (probably outside of IT) is already doing this. The same thing holds true for the other categories of tools that he has went through.

The final point he’s covering is how to leverage these strategic tools within the EA process. To some extent this is motherhood and apple pie, but it’s very good advice, especially knowing that many EA’s have grown out of the world of application development and may still be very technology focused. As a result, it’s entirely possible that the EA team has never read the company’s annual report. It’s even more likely that EA hasn’t seen things like competitive analysis documents. If an EA doesn’t understand how a company competes, how can they make appropriate decisions? Speaking very broadly and citing Michael Raynor’s earlier presentation, do you know whether your company differentiates on cost or on products? Both of those can have significant impacts on how information technology is leveraged. A company that differentiates based on product excellence and customer service must have significantly better technology for understanding their customers than a company that simply tries to be the lowest cost provider in the marketplace.

My final thoughts: There’s not much to disagree with in this presentation. I think he paints a great picture of what many of us would like to be doing. The challenge I suspect that many attendees have is that our EA organizations, as a previous presenter put it, “are mired in the world of technology architecture.” Somehow, we need to find a seat at the strategic planning table so when we ask about some of these artifacts, everyone knows its importance versus stopping us in our tracks and asking, “Why do you need it?”

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