If companies are going to grow into entities that are truly greater than the sum of their parts, they need to respond faster and smarter to market challenges with better decision-making capabilities. One vital concern, which is often overlooked in discussions of information visibility, is the need for stringent alignment of departmental objectives with corporate strategy.
Business activity alignment is the ability to take your theories and put them into practice - in essence, taking the strategic plan and translating it into tactical steps. This results in more clearly defined executive roles, as well as an enhanced ability to leverage technology towards growth. Additional business benefits include achieving a balance of cost and investment towards organizational goals; a balance between internal limits and external growth; enhanced collaboration for better decisions and departmental alignment; and a 360-degree view of customers for better customer experiences as well as marketing and sales efforts.
To ensure alignment, management should focus on the development of a common set of metrics within the organization, which naturally requires a common set of definitions. Typically, different parts of the organization develop metrics specific to themselves and their purposes - resulting in a lack of consistency in reporting and an inability to aggregate information to senior management. According to a 2007 report 57 percent of companies do not have a common set of metrics to work with.
The challenges become apparent when management tries to aggregate departmental information to make enterprise decisions. A lack of consistent definitions and metrics makes it particularly difficult for management to determine which way alignment needs to tilt, if at all. One caveat: small and midsize companies must strike a balance between letting groups identify and define the best metrics for themselves versus defining metrics in the best interests of the organization as a whole.
The result of strict alignment of activities with corporate strategy is that individual departments are no longer paying lip service to the business plan; instead, it serves as a coherent action plan, with all cogs working toward the same objective instead of grinding the machine to a halt.
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