CADDManager on February 8th, 2011
This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Strategic Planning

Business Alignment is something you may hear about at your firm or in general conversations about planning.  Your main CAD initiatives, in terms of budget and resources, should be directly linked to business goals and objectives. This means that when you articulate your objectives they should reflect the same targets as some of the business goals.

(This is a republish with edits of an article I did for AUGIWorld magazine in March 2008.  It is germane to the issues we are discussing so I revisiting it)

Business goals are defined in the firms Strategic Plan.  Get a copy and read it.

The business managers should drive major CAD initiatives in conjunction with you. So when you develop your goals you should be working with the front line and upper level managers. This would be done by running your ideas past them. Get their input as you develop your approach and the end results of your efforts. Solicit their agreement as you move forward. Ask them to assist in your efforts to convince others.

Your IT strategy and planning must be directly linked to your firms strategy and planning processes. You need to get involved with the process of the firm creating their plans or at least get your hands on a copy as soon as possible. If you have direct input you should try to get you agenda items discussed in the company’s strategy and planning sessions. If you cannot do that, you should wrap your goals around theirs.

What does Alignment look like?

Understand that not all of the goals that your firm develops will be connected to CAD. In fact there may be very few that really can be used to create alignment. The point is not quantity but quality. If you can align to several specific strategic goals then others will be able to help you achieve them.

Let’s take a look at how we can match up your CAD goals with the firm’s goals. We will do this by taking a firm goal and developing a CAD goal from that statement. Most firms go through a yearly process of creating strategic goals. Goals that they hope to achieve in order to better serve their customers, gain market share, control spending and more. Each of these goals is created by taking into account the firms resources, financial situation, opportunities and challenges. Working these all together, the top “think tank” folks at your firm come up with the objectives for the firm’s year.

Here is what you might see…

Firm Goal: We will extend our ability to deliver project expertise by sharing staff among offices. Each project will be staffed with the best talent from differing offices.
The reality and work-flow of this goal means that office staff will be relocating between offices, sending project files back and forth, opening CAD files from remote servers and possibly storing files on laptops.

If you fight these issues, then you will have trouble getting things done. You could try to get them to not do some of these things, but the reality is they will happen in spite of you. You should try to manage these kinds of things no matter what and get others to agree that some data exchange and storage methods are not safe or effective. Let’s see how embracing the goal would work and better yet what we can do to enable it.

Here is what you might put forward…

CAD Goal: We will enable secure file sharing between offices by establishing guidelines for file transfer, remote file sharing, laptop storage and backup requirements. To assist knowledge workers in traveling between offices we will standardize folder structures and system setups so that they can use any machine in any office and see the same setup.

By setting your goal in alignment with the ones that the firm has, you stand a much better chance of getting them done. This does not mean that you have to throw out all of the stuff you want to get done. It just means that you need to rethink what the focus of your efforts should be. If you find that everything you want to do does not even come close to what they firm wants done then you will soon find yourself at odds with most of your coworkers.

Here is another example:

Firm Goal: We will reduce our project delivery time by 10% by increasing our employee’s productivity.

Hidden in this goal is a wealth of opportunity. The CAD environment is one that is primed for productivity and poised for enhancement. Here are a few goals that will support the firm’s efforts.

CAD Goal: We will customize our interface to provide 15% improvement in speed of the user’s processes.
CAD Goal: We will create custom content that will alleviate the need for each project to create content which will reduce production time for CAD files.
CAD Goal: We will unify the support folders on the server so that every project can reuse existing project details that have been reviewed and approved.

These three are a good start. You can most likely think of several more.

By bringing your purposes in parallel with the company objectives you will make it possible for others to rally around the efforts.

Where to start

Get your hands on the firm’s strategic plan. Review it and formulate your CAD objectives that fall in step with that plan. Look for anything in the firm’s goals that is related to CAD, productivity, time savings, design processes, standardization or improvements. Start thinking like the top level managers and leaders of your firm.

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