As a consultant, planning is critical to the success of any solution strategy or implementation we assist our clients with. In reality, how do you know if a plan is any good or even exists at all? It really comes down to the objectives by which you judge the successes of a plan for your organization.
There are many indicators of how a firm thinks about planning for their tech and ops environment, and often it comes down to the terms used to self-describe ones current state. We've heard firms talk about themselves relative to the "bar", "best practice", or "industry standards" whilst others measure themselves against their "needs". The resulting plan using these lenses may often be short term or tactical work which miss the greater need and in some regards, opportunity.
Ever search google for insights into planning? You'll find quotes from historical figures, philosophers, authors, athletes, and comedians. To make the point above, consider these:
Ben Franklin (or Alan Larkin) said "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
Yogi Berra said "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else."
J.R.R. Tolkien said "It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."
And Ben Stein said "Somewhere there is a map of how it can be done."
Preparing for something, knowing where you are going, factoring in the appropriate considerations, and finding the map are pretty standard concepts for the investments industry and its member firms to consider. So where is the gap? This leads us back to the lens above by which firms consider their environments, set objectives, and conduct their planning.
Let's baseline the realities of the industry by stating front office needs are increasingly more complex, middle office outsourcing is maturing, vendor consolidation is prevalent, robust data management capabilities are a requirement, more real time processing is needed, focused books of records are evolving, and regulatory requirements are tightening.
Plans which leave industry realities out of the "calculations" may not be a plan at all. These plans are more likely the continuation of the status quo, and worse yet a catalyst for bad decisions which may impact a firm's evolution and growth. Now, considering these calculations may very well lead to a plan which contemplates minimal or measured change and investment, but at least you will end up where you thought rather than someplace else and will have planned for those dragons.