Tuesday, February 5, 2013

IT Ownership vs. Stewardship

There will be different levels of ownership depending on where the application is in the life cycle.

Most of the organizations today still live in functional silos, at industrial era, such silos may produce certain level of efficiency under considerably stable working environment; however, the pace of change has expedited at digital era, how to run organization as a whole better than sum of pieces, how to enforce cross-functional communication and collaboration?  ownership vs. stewardship, what's the best attitude? In silo IT environment, how do you define OWNERSHIP and use it to bring out the best in what you do? When does OWNERSHIP start and end? Does OWNERSHIP ever end and what are you doing to make sure it doesn't?

What’s ownership anyway? Depending on whom you ask, you will likely get different definitions. In an environment where people work within their silos, ownership to those folks will likely stay within their respective silo. But at the end of the day, who are end customers?

1.    DevOps & Application Life Cycle 

There will be different levels of ownership depending on where the application is in the life cycle. (requirements management, architecture, coding, testing, tracking, and release management). For instance, there may be a developer who owns the app until the app is moved into production and then service delivery owns the app. Generally, there is also a business owner of an app along with a service delivery owner.

DevOps Deployment: Application deployments are complex and for years, the Dev and Ops teams have worked in silos causing a disconnection between the two, which in turn causes slow time-to-market and poor quality of applications delivered. Implementing a DevOps strategy helps alleviate these problems by assigning joint ownership of the entire delivery process between the Dev and Ops teams. DevOps enhances better and earlier communication between the teams during the application process, thus improving the collaboration in managing the complexities of delivering software applications. From an “us” versus “them” blame scenario, it becomes a common goal among the two teams to come together to accelerate solutions faster to market without sacrificing quality for speed. Therefore, the main purpose of DevOps is to tear down silos and define a holistic IT ownership mindset.

2. IT as a ‘Steward’ in Business Data Life Cycle Management 

Businesses today are information-intensive, CIOs & IT usually manage data life cycle, from data storage, data collection, data integrity, data security/governance to data analysis., etc. However, at most or businesses, IT doesn't own data, as business functions may declare “ownership” of their data,  it makes situation tougher, as siloed data will cause bad decision making, resources wastes, as well as leave risk loopholes, with support and collaboration from business partners, IT can play “steward” role in managing data life cycle more effectively. Being ‘steward,' instead of an ‘owner,” shows the good attitude.

In addition, at the era of Cloud, another question that will emerge in these converged or hybrid clouds are who is ultimately responsible for protecting and securing the application data. Presuming the hybrid cloud or so-called converged cloud models take root, which they will, the threat of silos returning is very real. Not only will the ‘who owns the data' question emerge more often, but also 'where is my data?' will be heard a lot. Any CIO who doesn't wrest complete control of that issue could be asking for trouble. As you never want to be in a position of not knowing where that data is or who has control of it.

3. IT Personnel/Talent Management 

And ‘ownership” can mean different things based on business context. For example,
- an application may have a business owner
- A business function may have ownership by an IT Manager / Director for provision of IT to that function
- A developer may own changes for an application. 
  • An application developer's ownership does not end when an application is created or changed; she/he owns the experience of the user whom the application is designed for. In a silo'd IT environment, For instance, when does an application developer's ownership begin and end? In a nutshell, all IT personnel should not, after moving to another project, forget about the previous project that they have created for the end users. They should remain vested and engaged with the users to ensure that their work continues to generate extraordinary business value. They can easily accomplish this through relationships with their users. In doing so, they own the end user's experience.
  • IT does provide services to internal staff but ultimately, the beneficiary of IT services is the end customers. So, at the end of the day, everything that IT organization does, is for the end customers. Everyone in IT organization owns the end user's experience. This is an OWNERSHIP mindset any customer-centric CIOs need to instill within IT organization.
 It is an essence of leadership where IT expresses concern about the ongoing needs of end users versus trying to shove rigid rules down their throat. Could it a bit altruistic when doing more with less is bearing down. It may also well depend on the corporate culture. Therefore, ‘Ownership” is not about status quo, and “stewardship” also doesn’t mean of being "second class,” it’s the mindset to think the business as a whole, delight end customers and fulfill business purposes.


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