Strategic management information. Where do we want to be?

Building a Strategic MIS for a Commercial Bank

In this blog we're looking at building a Strategic Management Information System (SMIS) to support strategy implementation in a commercial bank. We're assuming a starting point where we have a well defined Business Plan which describes a rich set of measures and targets which underpin strategic success. This blog is going to focus on how we might organise these measures and targets in a dashboard format, use the SMIS to cascade objectives throughout the bank, and also to structure and capture our data logically. Along the way we'll be covering many tips and pitfalls which I have experienced in strategic data and information management, and I hope to get lots more in terms of comments and suggestions from readers.

Strategic management information. Where do we want to be?

Let's assume we're a general manager in a mainstream commercial bank; it doesn't matter if we're the Chairman or CEO, head of a division, or the manager of a small department or team. It should be the case that when we log in, in the morning or last thing in the evening, whether we're in the office or away on business, that we should be able to quickly and easily access the information we need to tell us whether our strategy is on track or not.

However, in my humble experience, this is rarely the case. Basically I have seen many banks (even those who imagine themselves as quite developed) seriously flounder when it comes to answering seemingly straightforward questions about their strategic performance and the root causes. This blog is going to focus on the key issue of strategic management information. What is it and how do we define it? Why do we need it? Where is it? How should we capture and organise it? How can we use it effectively?

Before wading in to this blog - ask yourself how well your bank organises its strategic information. Do you have a readily accessible, timely and reliable dashboard report which summarises key strategic information in an easily digestible form? Or do you have to wade through piles of paper, make endless telephone calls, and navigate through a labyrinth of files every time you have to update your superiors on strategic performance. Or somewhere in the middle...

Perhaps it is easier to try and imagine where you want to be, rather than where you are. Throughout this series we'll be working with a very simple Strategic Management Information System attached to a hypothetical case study. Modern business analytics/ business intelligence software can be exceptionally powerful (and we'll be covering some options in future posts) - but sometimes it helps to start with something simple to flush out the problems and to crystallise your approach BEFORE you spend big money on software and IT architecture.

So in the next post let's dive on in and look at a simple SMIS dashboard and perhaps you can imagine this as a benchmark at the most, but more likely as an illustration of the key points I'll be making along the way.