Jeffrey Blake - Web+Cloud+Strategy

08/09/2011

Creating an IT Strategy - Management by Maxim

I have heard that 90% of all businesses do not have a written Business Strategy.  Its in their heads - but as an Enterprise Architect how do you extract it so that you can create a viable IT Strategy?  Often times CxOs don’t have time to have a strategic dialogue.  One way to solve this problem is to employ the “Maxim Process”

The Maxim Process is described by Broadbent and Kitzis in [Broadbent+05] as a pragmatic way to extract enough information for a good enough IT strategy while not investing more than a day’s workshop with senior management. The CIO will organize a work-­‐ shop with CxOs, which will lead to documenting 2 kinds of so-­‐called Maxims:

  • Business Maxims
  • And as a result IT Maxims

Maxims are a few concise principles that are used to document the strategic direction of an enterprise. A Maxim workshop will usually not produce more than around 5 business maxims. For each of those, management will derive 4-­‐5 maxims for the IT function that will help to support them.

Maxim

A typical Maxim Workshop will be split up into two parts:

  • Part 1: Finding the Business Maxims,
  • Part 2: Deriving the IT Maxims

An external facilitator should moderate the workshop day and process.

To give examples imagine an old economy financial service provider like a big insurance company that runs more than one brand name on the market. For such an enterprise you could find the following business maxim:

  • Create synergies in back office and service functions wherever brand identity is not compromised

IT maxims that could be deducted from such a business strategy could be:

  • Define standard architectures and platforms used by all of the group’s companies in order to leverage synergies and to reduce IT cost
  • Harmonize the IT application systems for the group’s companies wherever there is a business case for this.

SOURCE: TOGAF9 QuickStart Guide 2009

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Jeffrey Blake

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