As information technology becomes a bigger part of everyday business functions, many businesses find it increasingly difficult to assess the relationship between IT projects, business operations and business functions. The strategic grid offers a way to simplify the assessment.
The Strategic Grid
The strategic grid consists of four quadrants – strategic, factory, turnaround and support – separated by a basic x-axis and y-axis. The horizontal or x-axis focuses on IT’s relationship to the business’s strategy. The vertical or y-axis focuses on IT’s relationship to business operations. IT projects and initiatives, both current and proposed, get placed on the grid based on their expected impact. IT initiatives with low strategic and low operational impact land in the bottom left: the support quadrant. IT initiatives that play an integral role in strategy and operations go in the upper right: the strategic quadrant. The upper left or factory quadrant plays host to IT projects that facilitate operations, such as computer-controlled manufacturing, but create limited impact on business strategy. The bottom right or turnaround quadrant is reserved for projects that use technological innovation to generate strategic advantage, but show minimal effect on operations.
The strategic grid provides both IT management and upper management an easy way to gauge the importance of any given IT project. This allows them to make better decisions, such as whether it is more cost efficient to outsource a particular IT function or keep it in-house. For example, a business might find it can save money by outsourcing upkeep on its customer forum, which probably falls in the support quadrant, rather than keeping it in-house.