This Guideline is focused entirely on the alignment of the Information Technology function with Business Strategy of renewable energy companies and organizations, that is, how IT can be positioned to support organizational goals, IT cost overviews, devise business IT strategies and form project ideas or innovative business objectives. It does not attempt to cover the creation of an IT Strategy. However, notwithstanding the declared scope of the document, what follows will be extremely useful to all aspects of the strategic planning processes.
Despite the growing trend towards service homogenization and the widespread adoption of packaged software, there are still real opportunities for IT to make a difference. But the IT contribution is less likely to take the form of the ‘killer’ application that gives specific competitive advantage – it is far more likely that the principal benefit will be derived from having robust, but adaptable, technology throughout the organization, thus facilitating an agile business strategy.
So there it is – a tremendous challenge at the best of times and especially when that ‘oh-so-important’ strategy is perceptible only in the mind of the beholder and not committed to paper in any great detail. But, if our strategy is not clearly visible – how can we ever hope to align anything with it, let alone the IT function? The answer is that we must move beyond the conceptual level of most strategic thinking, towards a practical, physical expression of the alignment process.
Quite simply, we need a tangible alignment plan that will help us to realize our ambition of complete harmony between our IT and business strategy. These Guidelines illustrate how to formulate such a plan and how to manage the alignment process.
However, the guidelines presented here are most relevant to IT Business consultants and wind power developers and organization or management teams that have a clear vision and mission for their business and are in the process of developing the primary IT Business strategies to be followed. The development of a suite of strategies is an iterative process and involves circular thinking on the basis that optimal strategies will evolve gradually and be very interdependent. Accordingly, the best way to utilize this paper is to review it in its entirety and then use it as a checklist and basis for brainstorming and systematic analysis.
The benefits of aligning IT with Business Strategy are manifold and essential to the long-term success of every organization that employs technology. Satisfactory alignment may take some time to achieve – but it will not happen at all, unless you approach it in a structured, methodical, manner. The steps illustrated in these Guidelines will help you to understand the nature of the challenge, how to address the fundamental issues involved and give you strong foundations upon which you can build. There are four strategic cornerstones: A thorough understanding of your current business operations, including the organizational culture; Knowledge of your IT estate (resources), including the value chains; Good awareness of your future business context and influential factors; A clear vision of where you want to go and how you are going to get there.
The essence of successful alignment between IT and the Business Strategy is based on effective understanding, communication and collaboration, throughout the value chain.