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What are the keys to success ?

posted Mar 28, 2011, 9:55 PM by Francois Tricot
At a department/service level, a leader should always questions himself about how (s)he will be successful.
After setting-up amazing looking strategic plans on paper, there is still remaining work to obtain expected results. 

Being in charge of the IT department, my wish is, as well as the one of all my colleagues, to implement a successful strategy, aligned with the company strategy.
Robert Kaplan and David Norton, authors of “The Balanced Scorecard” say fewer than 10% of well formulated strategies are successfully implemented.
Our IT Strategy is to bring more value into business than competitors do at a lower cost than they do. This has been translated into providing, through Internet, industrialized and centralized self-service and standard solutions and platforms. We expect, as a result, much more flexibility, speed of implementation, quick alignment between need and solution, lower costs, better empowerment.

As it's time to set teams objectives, I'd like to share my views on this today. If defining the right, clear, understandable, aligned strategy explains 15% of the success, 85% must be explained by execution of the strategy.

People Performance is how the actual work gets done. It's making sure the right people are in the right place and are motivated to optimal performance.

Our global performance rely on making sure each individual is working on goals that matters the IT department goals and that are aligned with IT department strategy, themselves aligned with company strategy.
Following steps are all mandatory to achieve outstanding results :
  • Define and communicate a strategy
  • Define a master plan that really implements the strategy
  • Set-up team and individual objectives aligned to the master plan goals
  • Make people accountable for their results and track success

Making sure that the strategy is understood and embedded into the plan

The strategy is communicated, explained and documented.

The internal web site "IT Governance" contains everything related to the IT strategy.
And their is a clear connection between the strategy and the master plan. The master plan implements the strategy.

The master plan is defined to really implement the IT Strategy. It is also communicated, explained and documented.

Communication is done face to face during internal events (IT seminar, year kick-off and conclusion meetings), communication to a wider audience is done through Ceva Mag or Galaxy, and sometimes this blog.

Define goals and objectives that contribute to the success of the plan

There are 2 kinds of objectives in the IT department. Team objectives and Individual objectives.
Team objectives are shared. They are global objectives that contributes globally to the department objectives.

In 2010, the team objectives were the following :
  • (1) Use new collaborative tools (Google Apps suite of tools) to contribute to user acceptance and promote them
    • New project should have their collaborative space
    • Google Documents should be preferred to Microsoft Office documents
  • (2) Compliance with the IT Processes/Quality Assurance Plan
Indeed, introducing Google Apps technically speaking was not a bog deal. Getting value from it requires change in people habits. More transparency, more sharing, more collaboration, more self-service, more visibility. It may be frightening to many. Writing, sharing, publishing. IT people were not different than other Ceva employees. Using new tools to do their works require them to learn these new tools and understand how to make the best use of them.
Another objective is always to deliver predictable results. We still haven't found a better idea than to follow processes, coordinated activities, with clear roles and responsibilities for this to happen. This is the reason for objective (2)

Individual objectives are also split into 2 groups. The one that are related to the execution of the plan, the one that are related to the individual improvements (skills, methodology, behavior). Most objectives fall into the first category.

Be accountable for results and track success

Trust is a key element. Giving a detailed framework and detailed instruction to people will not help them achieve great results.
This means that people are accountable for results. Manager does not control a priori but eventually a posteriori. People have got full autonomy and trust to achieve expected results. Or more.
This does not mean that there are no rule. The methodology framework is defined and documented using the R.A.C.I. methodology : who is responsible / accountable / consulted / informed for a given described activity. This global framework helps to keep efficiency by giving a clear scope and clear responsibilities to the team.
For IT department, this methodology has been set-up through collaborative sessions and the result is documented in the IT Governance web site in the section Methohology > Quality Assurance Plan > IT Management Processes (Access restricted to Ceva employees only)

The company and the Human Ressources framework provides me for the required tools to track success and make people accountable for results.
  • Job description
  • Objective definition
  • Performance Appraisal review
  • Individual bonus scheme and salary management
Using all these tools the right way is key to success. Efficiency = Motivation x Skills. Skills may evolve slowly (through missions and trainings) compared to motivation. Giving regular feedback (positive and constructive) and using properly the previously listed tools play a great role into motivation.

These are my views.