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IT Strategy

The IT strategy is derived from the enterprises’ business strategy and is one of the major influence factors of EAM, since the enterprise architecture aims at optimally supporting the IT strategy at any time [Kel07].

Definition of the Term Strategy

In the context of IT strategy, one of the most prominent definitions for the term strategy is provided by the Gartner Group stating that “A strategy takes a vision or objective and bounds the options for attaining it.” [MF02]. Simplified, this means the starting point for developing a strategy is a goal or a vision [Kel11]. Based on that goal, a couple of possible ways, meaning certain series of activities to reach that goal, are derived [Kel11; Buc10a]. The final step of deciding on a strategy is to choose which of those possible ways to take [Kel11].


IT Strategy Foundations

IT strategy is the strategy defined for managing the IT resources of an enterprise [Kel11]. The IT strategy should be derived from the enterprises business strategy to ensure that the IT operation optimally supports the business [Kel07]. This requires that a business strategy is explicitly stated, which is rarely the case in reality [MF02; Kel07].


Approaches to IT Strategy Development

One possible approach for defining an IT strategy is the management by maxims process developed by Broadbent & Weill (1997) [BBL12] [Kel07]. The idea is to organize a one day workshop with the business and the IT leaders of the enterprise [BW97]. The goal of the workshop is to define a set of business and IT maxims, where a maxim is defined as a “statement that specifies a practical course of conduct” [BW97]. More precisely, up to six business maxims are defined and afterwards up to five IT maxims are derived from each of those business maxims [BK05]. The IT maxims are used as input for defining an IT strategy.

An alternative approach to formulating strategies is provided by the Gartner Grid [BBL12, Kel07]. This approach is more of a checklist ensuring the completeness of an IT strategy than a step-by-step description detailing how to develop an IT strategy [BBL12].


Approaches to Monitoring IT strategy Achievement and Alignment

Once an IT strategy is defined, it is important to monitor the IT strategy achievement and the alignment of IT strategies and planned projects. The monitoring of IT strategy achievement can be done using predefined key indicators that are suitable for measuring the chosen IT strategy. The alignment of strategies and projects can be ensured by assigning globally defined indicators of strategic impact to each proposed project. The indicators should be globally defined to ensure comparability. The value of this indicator is taken into account when prioritizing the projects that will be implemented in the future. This way only projects with high strategic impact will make it into the portfolio of approved projects. Additionally, traceability of the strategic impact of finished projects is enabled, meaning that it can always be reconstructed, which IT strategies have been addressed by a certain project [Wit+07].


Interaction between IT Strategy and EAM

One of the major factors influencing the EAM practice of an organization is the chosen IT strategy [Kel11]. The enterprise architecture aims at optimally supporting the IT strategy [Kel07] and needs to quickly adapt to changing strategic orientations of the enterprise [Fuh13b]. Further, the IT strategy has implications especially for the IT governance [Kel11] as well as the for the IT portfolio management, as detailed above [Wit+07].

Even though the IT strategy has a lot of influence on the EAM of an enterprise, Enterprise Architects are usually not responsible for its definition [BBL12]. The definition of the IT strategy is traditionally a task of the CIO of an enterprise [Kel11]. Nevertheless, the Enterprise Architects often support the strategy development by providing relevant information [Han12b] or by taking the role of a moderator between business and IT [BBL12].



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