Strategy Execution Management Software: What It Is and Why It’s About to Take Over

By Jonathan Morgan

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Strategy Execution Management Software: What It Is and Why It’s About to Take Over


Gone are the days of paying a strategy consultant to listen to your team’s priorities for growth, retrofit those objectives into a proprietary plan structure, deliver it all in a glossy package, and leave your team to do the heavy-lifting. There’s a new model on the strategic planning scene, the process that actually helps your organization accomplish your initiatives: Strategy Execution Management (SEM).

“Executing strategy in the digital age requires tools connecting the shared objectives of business strategists and those executing the change and measure true business value.”

Gartner’s recently published Market Guide for Strategy Execution Management (SEM) Software outlines how this emerging market is finding its niche in the business community, how it’s currently evolving, and how it’s projected to grow in the future. AchieveIt – featured in this select group of SEM software – is riding the first wave of SEM as a tool that “connects shared objectives of business strategists and those executing the change and measure true business value.”

SEM is the trend of the future. Executional excellence took the number one spot in a list of 400 global CEOs’ most difficult challenges, more challenging than innovation, top-line growth, or even geopolitical instability. This is a problem that needs solving, and SEM has started budding in the marketplace to help boost the percentage of large organizations up from a 75% failure rate to successfully implement their plans.

AchieveIt is in accordance with the findings and recommendations about Strategy Execution Management outlined by Gartner, and we’d also like to recognize a few additional trends from what we’ve also learned by speaking with strategy executives across the globe.

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Strategy Execution Shouldn’t Be Forced to Fit into Other Platforms

As organizational tech stacks continue to grow, strategy leaders have a natural inclination to test out what’s already in-house first. With the inflating over-abundance of software, we regularly find that IT resources tend to recommend alternate platforms that don’t fit the needs of strategy management (or will offer to build something that will only complicate things).

If existing software solutions like Project Management, Project Portfolio Management, Business Intelligence, and Excel enabled successful strategy execution, Gartner would have never released this trend report. The mere fact of its existence proves there’s a widening gap that needs to be bridged, and it can’t be done by trying to squeeze your strategy execution management into MS Office.

As comfortable as it may be to stick with a known software solution internally, organizations that successfully execute operate differently. Finding a software that’s built specifically for strategy execution will do more for your organization in the long run than trying to make improper solutions work.

However, on the flip side, keep in mind many SEM platforms can be used for other use cases than just strategy execution. Think about cost savings, operational excellence, risk management, and innovation plans, all connected in one place.

Strategy is Organization-Wide, So Strategy Software Should Support Organization-Wide Visibility

For many leaders, strategy execution often becomes a challenge due to the siloed nature of their organizations. While the strategy team and executives normally create the plan, execution traditionally falls on the business units themselves. This makes the tracking of insights across the organization extremely difficult; each department has their own way of tracking and reporting, so it’s impossible or otherwise time-consuming to see progress across the entire organization at once.

While this seems like the unavoidable status quo, the average organization is actually leaving over $7 million at risk with poor strategy execution management. $7 million!! By having a disconnected organization, gaps appear in insights across the organization, causing improper decision-making and missed opportunities. What could an additional $7 million+ in objectives achieved mean for your organization?

As strategy connects across an enterprise, strategy leaders must find ways to increase visibility for executives. When purchasing software to manage strategy, leaders should focus on platforms that make it easy to visualize progress across the organization. Moving away from siloed reporting and execution is the only way to conserve millions of dollars at risk for an organization with a poor execution success rate.

The Best Software in the World Won’t Guarantee Success; It Takes Thoughtful Change Management

While there are many reasons strategies fail, one primary reason is that today’s fires take priority over strategic initiatives, creating an endless cycle of pushing out strategy. When implementing a new software, we must recognize how this trend will only continue if emphasis isn’t placed on proper implementation, change management, and overall adoption.

Gartner has estimated that 75% of all ERP implementations fail. We haven’t seen anywhere close to this number with AchieveIt’s customers, but this perception of failure significantly impacts purchasing decisions for strategy execution platforms. Leaders are fearful it won’t take hold, and as they’ve prophesized, the software never stands a chance to be fully incorporated into operations and the culture of their organization.

Platforms that continue to see success in the SEM marketplace will take a thoughtful approach to implementation and an ongoing partnership. Keep in mind – this isn’t just focusing on proper software training. Organizations regularly need increased focus on foundational teachings related to strategy to create a culture built around execution. Additionally, optimizing plans for execution is critically important to ensure successful utilization of any new platform. Lastly, SEM organizations should focus on helping organizations build out new processes to increase attention on monitoring strategy and improving agility.

Where Will You Stand When the Strategy Execution Management Market Takes Off?

As the strategy execution management software landscape continues to change, where will you stand? Will you continue to try to use generic tools to execute specific processes? Will you suffer from compiling hundreds of different spreadsheets, just to put together a single dashboard for cross-plan visibility? Or will you find a solution that works for your company, and go full-force into a hearty, supportive, ongoing implementation powered by change management? At AchieveIt, we look forward to helping more organizations take back control of their dollars at risk and transform the way they manage execution.