IT strategies are often nonexistent or ineffective:
According to our IT Management & Governance Diagnostic (MGD), 64.0% of governments have an IT strategy process they feel is ineffective.
IT does not do a good job of communicating their support for organization goals. As a result, 17.5% of government leaders still feel that their goals are unsupported by IT.
IT departments that have not developed IT strategies experience alignment, organization, and prioritization issues with the broader government organization.
Most surveyed leaders value tech leaders with experience fostering operational stability and strategic alignment, however…
The CIO is seen as an order taker by organizational leaders. This usually results in the demands on IT far outstripping the IT budget.
Projects and initiatives are not prioritized around the organization’s objectives. Synergies and dependencies are recognized too late. Projects are often late or put on hold because of sudden changes to organizational requirements.
Impact and Result
Follow Info-Tech’s approach to developing a strong IT strategy for federal governments:
Use Info-Tech’s federal government–focused approach to discern the organizational context.
Clearly communicate to government executives how IT will support the government’s key objectives and initiatives using the Canadian Federal Government IT Strategy Presentation Template.
Use Info-Tech’s prioritization tool to help make project decisions in a holistic manner that allows for the selection of the most-valuable initiatives to become part of the IT strategic roadmap.
Build an IT Strategy for Small and Midsize Canadian Federal Government Organizations Research & Tools
1. Build an IT Strategy for Small and Midsize Canadian Federal Government Organizations Deck – Research to help you arrive at an IT strategy well aligned to organizational goals.
This step-by-step document walks you through how to properly develop an IT strategy for a small to medium-sized federal government department, agency, or Crown corporation and clearly align their IT initiatives to organization goals, IT excellence, and technology innovation.
Workshop: Build an IT Strategy for Small and Midsize Canadian Federal Government Organizations
Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.
Build an IT Strategy for Small and Midsize Canadian Federal Government Organizations
Success for federal departments, agencies, and Crown corporations depends on IT initiatives clearly aligned to organizational goals, enabling IT excellence and driving technology innovation.
Align IT strategy with organizational goals to deliver your organization's mandate.
Canadian federal IT departments work in an environment wherein they need to factor central guidance into their work (e.g. federal guidance on cloud strategy, digital government strategy, cybersecurity), but they are also accountable to meet the technology needs of their department. Numerous external and internal factors affect their work, including budget constraints, compliance requirements, evolving technology trends, changing public expectations, and the need to collaborate and cater to different stakeholders including other federal departments/agencies. They are expected to execute modernization plans for aging technology applications, upgrade poor or sometimes nonexistent data infrastructure, manage security and privacy, and develop and retain increasingly hard-to-find technology talent.
In this environment, it is imperative that federal department IT leaders have a clear understanding of the organization's priorities, objectives, and resources and develop their IT strategy in alignment with organizational goals. This will help ensure that their technology investments maximize value creation through improved operational efficiency, better cost management, and enhanced quality of services to the public and other stakeholders.
This blueprint and associated tools will provide you with a step-by-step approach to achieve an IT strategy that is in sync with your organizational objectives and will help establish IT as a strategic partner to the broader department and government.
Anubhav Sharma Research Director, CIO Strategy
Info-Tech Research Group
Think organizational value, not just technology, to create an effective IT strategy.
Being a CIO for a small or midsize Canadian federal government organization is different than being a CIO in the private sector. While all CIOs are concerned with aligning IT objectives with the firm's objectives, it all boils down to revenue growth in the private sector. Accordingly, those CIOs focus on technology initiatives that drive business growth and help the overall bottom line at the end of the fiscal year. After all, the entire point of being in business is to generate a profit and push to gain more market share in their segment.
Being a CIO in the Canadian federal public sector is a different story. Federal governments don't strive for revenue growth so much as efficiency and good governance. CIOs for Canadian small-to-midsize government departments contend with a smaller pool of available IT resources and work daily to balance competing priorities whilst advancing the digital ambitions of government departments and Crown corporations. Canadian federal government departments and Crown corporations focus on delivering services that provide meaningful impact for residents that contribute to the national economy as well as overall prosperity and well-being.
There is no rule for defining a small-to-midsize Canadian federal government department or Crown corporation. ITRG has partnered with GC agencies, departments, and Crown corporations ranging from four to four thousand IT employees. For the purposes of this research blueprint, small-to-midsize organizations shall be defined as up to five hundred IT employees.
This blueprint and associated tools will guide you through the appropriate methodologies and processes to help you, the small-to-midsize federal public sector CIO, create a solid IT strategy that aligns with your government leadership's goals to help drive value for your organization.
Matt Bourne Managing Partner,
Info-Tech Research Group
What is an IT strategy?
An information technology (IT) strategy provides a holistic view of the current IT environment, the future direction, and the initiatives required to achieve the desired future state.
An IT strategy is defined based on the organizational imperatives it enables, not the technology used to accomplish this.
It should support nimble, reliable, and efficient responses to strategic objectives.
It guides the prioritization of initiatives and investments, focused on driving organization value, while ensuring alignment between IT and the broader organization.
An IT strategy is NOT a list of IT initiatives developed in isolation without alignment with organizational needs.
Defining an IT strategy means organizing IT's financial, technical, and human resources around the organization's goals, and providing oversight to manage risks.
IT decisions are made with a focus on long-term investments.
Initiatives are prioritized based on an enterprise-first approach.
An IT strategy ensures the wise investment of dollars on IT initiatives that help achieve organization goals and objectives while driving future growth.
An IT strategy enables the alignment of IT activities with organizational objectives and sets expectations about what can be achieved.
Source: Info-Tech IT Strategy Workshop Facilitation Deck
Introduction to the federal government
The Canadian federal government comprises three distinct branches – legislative, executive, and judicial – with powers vested by the Constitution of Canada in the House of Commons, the prime minister, and the federal courts, respectively.
Unlike the US system, there is no separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, as the prime minister and their cabinet are drawn from elected members of Parliament.
The budget for federal government spending in Canada is presented by the government and approved by Parliament.
The Treasury Board governs the use of budgetary funds and the assets purchased with said funds. A set of guidelines from the Treasury Board is offered to the various federal departments and agencies.
Once the funds have been provided, the departments/agencies have significant discretion in deciding how to spend them based on their organizational needs. The federal government generally also takes a "hands off" position on how IT departments in Crown corporations are managed as quasi-private sector structures.
Shared Services Canada as a Partner
The Canadian federal government consolidated select IT service capabilities beginning in 2011 with the creation of Shared Services Canada (SSC). The agency provides centralized email, data center, and network services to federal government departments and agencies.
Centralized Staffing: Staffing in the federal government is overseen by the Public Service Commission. Note that many GC IT infrastructure resources were transferred to SSC upon its creation.
Understand organizational context not only for your department/agency/Crown corporation but also for the broader government while developing your IT strategy.
Challenges and opportunities in federal government IT
Heightened resident expectations on delivery of government services due to shifts in attitudes since the pandemic and generational changes.
Finite budget, requiring prioritization and hard decisions on where to spend.
Adherence to stringent compliance requirements including security standards, accessibility requirements, and privacy laws.
Modernizing legacy systems while continuing to ensure critical department/agency support.
Attracting, retaining, and upskilling top IT talent facing competition with private sector.
Rise in cyberthreats and data breaches, enhancing need to implement robust security measures to protect sensitive government data.
Lead digital transformation by leveraging new innovative technologies such as AI.
Incorporate user-centered design thinking while developing services/products.
Leverage data analytics to identify trends, gain insights into department operations, and make better data-driven decisions.
Defend against cyberthreats by implementing zero-trust security, shifting from securing network boundaries to a focus on verifying users, assets, and resources.
Migrate to cloud computing to reduce costs, increase flexibility. and improve service delivery.
Develop cross-department collaboration to focus on similar use cases for service modernization and thus multiply resource effectiveness.
Looking at challenges and opportunities will give you unique insights on key focus areas for your IT strategy.
IT strategies are often nonexistent or ineffective.
According to our IT Management & Governance Diagnostic (MGD), 64.0% of governments have an IT strategy process they feel is ineffective (N=89 since January 1, 2021).
IT does not do a good job of communicating their support for organization goals. As a result, 17.5% of government leaders still feel that their goals are unsupported by IT (Info-Tech, CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic; N=57 since January 1, 2021).
IT departments that have not developed IT strategies experience alignment, organization, and prioritization issues with the broader organization.
Three-quarters of surveyed executives value technology leaders with experience in fostering operational stability and strategic alignment (CIO Journal, 2020). However …
The CIO is often seen as an order taker by the broader organization's leaders. This usually results in the demands on IT far outstripping their budget.
Projects and initiatives are not prioritized around organization's objectives. Synergies and dependencies are recognized too late. Projects are often late or put on hold because of sudden changes to organizational requirements.
Follow Info-Tech's approach to developing a strong IT strategy for federal government.
Use Info-Tech's federal government focused approach to discern the organizational context and develop your strategy.
Clearly communicate to government executives how IT will support the government's key objectives and initiatives using the Canadian Federal Government IT Strategy Presentation Template.
Use Info-Tech's prioritization tool to help make project decisions in a holistic manner that allows for the selection of the most valuable initiatives to become part of the IT strategic roadmap.
A government CIO has three roles: enable organizational productivity, run an effective IT shop, and drive technology innovation. Your IT strategy must reflect these three mandates and how IT strives to fulfill them.
Establish the Scope of Your IT Strategy Establish the scope of your IT strategy by defining IT's mission and vision statements and guiding principles.
Review IT Performance From Last Fiscal Year A retrospective of IT's performance helps you recognize the current state while highlighting important strategic elements to address going forward.
Build Your Key Initiative Plan Elicit the organizational context and identify strategic initiatives that are most important to the organization and build a plan to execute them.
Define IT's Operational Strategy Evaluate the foundational elements of IT's operational strategy that will be required to execute the key initiatives successfully.
Gather information on last fiscal year's strategy, particularly information on:
Specific IT initiatives/projects completed
Project start and end dates
Metrics and targets and progress made toward them
Last fiscal year's budget information
Build an IT Strategy for Small and Midsize Canadian Federal Government Organizations
Establish Scope of Your IT Strategy
1.1 Mission & Vision Statement
1.2 Guiding Principles
1.3 Finalize Scope
This phase will walk you through the following activities:
How to build IT mission and vision statements
How to elicit IT guiding principles
How to finalize and communicate your IT strategy scope
This phase involves the following participants:
CIO and ADM
Senior IT Team
To complete this phase, you will need:
Canadian Federal Government IT Strategy Presentation Template
Use the Canadian Federal Government IT Strategy Presentation Template to document the results from the following activities:
Mission and Vision Statements
IT Guiding Principles
1.1 Mission & Vision Statement
IT must aim to support the organization's mission and vision
A mission statement:
Focuses on today and what an organization does to achieve its goals.
Drives the organization.
Answers: What do we do? Whom do we serve? How do we service them?
“A mission statement focuses on the purpose; the vision statement looks to the fulfillment of that purpose.”
A vision statement:
Focuses on tomorrow and what an organization ultimately wants to become.
Gives the organization direction.
Answers: What problems are we solving? Who and what are we changing?
“A vision statement provides a concrete way for stakeholders, especially employees, to understand the meaning and purpose of your organization. However, unlike a mission statement – which describes the who, what, and why of your organization – a vision statement describes the desired long-term results of your organization's efforts.”
Source: Business News Daily, 2020
IT mission statements demonstrate the IT function's purpose
The IT mission statement specifies the function's purpose or reason for being. The mission should guide each day's activities and decisions. It will be influenced by government policy statements and directives such as the Government of Canada's Digital Ambitions and The Policy on Service and Digital. The mission statements use simple and concise terminology and speak loudly and clearly, generating enthusiasm for the organization.
Strong IT mission statements have the following characteristics:
Articulates the IT function's purpose and reason for existence
Describes what the IT function does to achieve its vision
Defines the end users of the IT function
Easy to grasp
Sample IT Mission Statements:
To provide leadership for the use of innovative information technology in a secure and efficient manner to enable and empower the department or Crown corporation.
To lead innovative change by providing digital and data-driven services to stakeholders (internal and external)
To help fulfil organizational goals, the IT department is committed to empowering department stakeholders with technology and services that facilitate effective processes, collaboration, and communication.
IT vision statements demonstrate what the IT organization aspires to be
The IT vision statement communicates a desired future state of the IT organization. Like the IT mission statement previously reviewed, it will also be influenced by government policy statements and directives such as the Government of Canada's Digital Ambitions and The Policy on Service and Digital. The statement is expressed in the present tense. It seeks to articulate the desired role of IT and how IT will be perceived.
Strong IT vision statements have the following characteristics:
Describes a desired future
Focuses on ends, not means
Concise (no unnecessary words)
Sample IT Vision Statements:
To be a trusted advisor and partner in enabling innovation and growth through an engaged IT workforce.
IT is a cohesive, proactive, and disciplined team that delivers innovative technology solutions while demonstrating a strong stakeholder experience mindset.
World-class provider and trusted partner enabling department's transformation into a leading prudential regulator.
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What Is a Blueprint?
A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.
Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.