“In my role as CIO I wanted to implement best practices to be sure we were doing the right things without wasting resources. I just couldn’t find any manuals to follow. Turns out, there was no manual for being a CIO. There was no manual for creating a better organisation or for digital transformation, and that kept me up at night”

That’s what Gerard Blokdijk – CEO of The Art of Service – told us when we spoke with him about the reason behind the Self Assessment Toolkits. 

He’s been on a mission to empower professionals to unleash their potential and building Self Assessment Toolkits have been pivotal in this journey

One of the main tasks of a CIO is to translate the company’s vision into an IT Strategy that can be implemented at an operational level with the technology and skills available to you. Often, the first step in this process is to benchmark your current performance against best practices.

This benchmark can be done in the form of a Self Assessment. A Self Assessment gives you a current status overview, a line in the sand to give you clarity and understanding where IT Strategy adds value. This benchmark also visualizes where the weak spots / areas for improvement are, which makes it a perfect exercise before you allocate resources for an improvement project.

When you look at self assessment questions, it’s important that you answer them based on your own personal opinion and experience. This becomes even more important when you fill out the Self Assessment with your team. Each individual in the team answers the questions differently – but keep in mind that the ultimate answer to each of these questions is:

‘In my belief, the answer to this question is clearly defined’.

You can go even further and ask for documented evidence, rather than just opinions. This will move the questionnaire more into an auditing realm as you require evidence to substantiate the answers.

Some of the most important management requirements for IT Strategy are listed below. For each of these questions, think about your current role and try to answer them truthfully. 

Are these requirements identified, assessed, implemented and documented? Or is there room for improvement of IT Strategy processes in the organization?

The management requirements are across 5 different phases, which coincide with the general life cycle of a business process. These phases loosely align with Deming’s Quality cycle: Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA for short).

  • Plan what you are going to do
  • Do what you planned for
  • Check / study and analyze the results of what you did in the previous step
  • Act accordingly – improve the activities, measurements and expected outcomes.

To help you to understand the style of questions you can ask during a Self Assessment, we chose a selection and placed them in the appropriate phases:

Phase 1: Recognize the value of IT Strategy for the overall business

  • How are the IT Strategy’s objectives aligned to the group’s overall stakeholder strategy?
  • What are the expected benefits of IT Strategy to the stakeholder?
  • Does IT Strategy create potential expectations in other areas that need to be recognized and considered?
  • Why does IT-business alignment continue to be an important issue for CIOs?

At the start of the engagement it’s important to identify why we even bother to work on IT strategy. What is the reason for this investment? Why is IT Strategy important to the business? It’s also an opportunity to learn about the benefits of IT Strategy in general to a CIO.

Phase 2: Define what IT Strategy means within the context of our business

  • What are the Roles and Responsibilities for each team member and its leadership? Where is this documented?
  • Has a high-level ‘as is’ process map been completed, verified and validated?
  • Has the direction changed at all during the course of IT Strategy? If so, when did it change and why?
  • What are the environment requirements to your organization?

While it’s interesting to learn about IT Strategy in general, the next step needs to be around the increased understanding of what IT Strategy means.

This part of the Self Assessment focuses more on the way your business is organized and how IT Strategy will make a difference within the context of the company and current business processes.

Phase 3: Measure & Analyze How IT Strategy is currently performed

  • Is it cost effective and/or good business practice to contract out for special competencies?
  • What data was collected (past, present, future/ongoing)?
  • Is the management process adequate for ensuring that issues will be addressed?
  • Does your organization systematically track and analyze outcomes related for accountability and quality improvement?

Even though you didn’t have a playbook, or best practice around IT Strategy, this doesn’t mean you didn’t do anything about it. No organisation is a true greenfield scenario when it comes to implementing IT Strategy processes. That’s why we need to identify the current activities and the resources utilized currently within the IT Strategy implementation processes.

The questions in phase 3 revolve around identifying what is currently being done and how well we are analyzing the raw data that is collected.

Phase 4: Improve the IT Strategy processes

  • How can the IT-business alignment be improved?
  • Where are your core business applications developed and/or running?
  • What does failure to properly align IT with your organizational strategy result in?
  • What is the optimum choice of a consumerization of IT strategy to realize business benefits?

This is where the rubber meets the road – how do we use all the information from previous phases and use that to our benefit to improve the IT Strategy processes? The questions in this part of the assessment are meant to make you consider the various areas within IT Strategy that you can improve on and what that improvement is going to mean for the business. Can you effectively measure the results from your improved IT Strategy processes, and what would that look like?

Phase 5: Control & Sustain the IT Strategy Objectives

  • How do you leverage business models and IT strategy to plan your digital business transformation initiatives?
  • How will the day-to-day responsibilities for monitoring and continual improvement be transferred from the improvement team to the process owner?
  • Is there a control plan in place for sustaining improvements (short and long-term)?
  • Are services really cheaper and better outside your organization?

The final maturity step is to create the ability to control and sustain the IT Strategy processes and the deliverables. It’s wonderful to be able to achieve a specific result once, but it requires a lot of effort, skill and determination to create a system where the results can be controlled, sustained and predicted.
Focusing on these questions in the Control and Sustain parts of the Self Assessment questionnaire will help you to focus your attention to those activities that truly matter.

While a Self Assessment won’t be a play-by-play handbook it will give you the roadmap to succeed during your journey in your position. And to be honest, at your level of competency you have grown beyond the need for a play-by-play handbook as you want to bring your personal touch to the business and the department you’re managing.

The Self Assessment for IT Strategy will clearly show the gaps in your knowledge, understanding and the communication breakdown within the company. It clearly shows you a path to leadership by addressing what you don’t know.

IT Strategy Toolkit: store.theartofservice.com/it-strategy-toolkit-best-practice-templates-step-by-step-work-plans-and-maturity-diagnostics

If you’re interested in Digital Transformation, why not try this toolkit: store.theartofservice.com/digital-transformation-toolkit