Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IT Best Practices at the Time of Uncertainty

Think inside the box - what can you do in the short term; shape the new box of thinking - what can you do in the long term.

IT is huge investment and costly in most of organizations, whether it is "planning" or "performance";  "process" or "people" issues - the CIOs shouldn't have been “overwhelmed” by complexity of IT and uncertainty of business dynamic, besides setting up practical IT Principles to follow, what are those IT practices can be shared?

1. Strategic Planning 

Think inside the box - what can you do in the short term; shape the new box of thinking - what can you do in the long term; Decision makers need to have the right tools in place and with all the information at their hand in order to make right decision upon growth opportunities and risk management. Strategic decisions related to technology should be business driven. The advantage being that technology supports the business priorities is funded, technology with marginal value is eliminated.

The strategy issues as "WHATs" and the implementation issues as "HOWs." WHAT questions include what business problems need to be solved, and map into IT projects -which applications to build, enhance, modify, decommission. HOW questions include whether to develop it in the house or take advantage of cloud; whether to employ proprietary COTS tools or go open source. 

2. Cost Optimization 

Thoughtful cost cutting and investment with an eye towards the future is the mark of a well-run company. Mistakes are made when the all-in value of a business line (including technology) is not taken into consideration when making budget decisions.

Rigorously identify and pursue value. All of IT spending must be looked at through an investment lens, provide a framework for thoughtful and informed decision-making. etc.What returns are you expecting? When do you expect them? What risk levels are you taking on? Scrutinize every expenditure and ask if it can be done more cost effectively; take advantage of realigning staffing by having a more flexible talent management; renegotiate all maintenance contracts; using demand-side analysis with TCO shifts from  technology budget to business budget discussions, to ensure that technology spending is in line with the business strategies and objectives.

3. Context Understanding 

Focus on your own situation, not media portrayal and not comparative studies; recognize what you don't know, can't predict and can't control; identify quantitative measure of success and trouble; assess and address root causes ...objectively; practice Common Sense Practices principle: If IT leaders are tuned into their business and their organization, they can be successful in any economic climate. If IT leaders remember that IT is about the Information, and focus on being a service organization, innovation engine, and running it as a business, the business will ultimately benefit. 

Leverage IT unique knowledge. There are few business units that are as deeply embedded into each corporate function as IT. Use this knowledge to uncover hidden value, not only within IT but benefit the entire organization.  

4. Simplicity

 Simplicity brings speed, clarity, and flexibility and productivity. Instill a management culture within IT and drive it through the organization, consolidate, integrate and optimize IT asset accordingly: Mange application life cycle, retire legacy systems; reassess any systems that require extra IT effort; consolidate database or infrastructure tools; streamline and then redraw the IT architecture to reflect SMAC trends; tighten coordination with vendors and partners.

Re-plan any project or undertaking via Agile methodology so that there are deliverables that provide benefit to the business at the shorter delivery cycle. Run, grow and transformation, simplify unproductive complexity and streamline limited resources on higher prioritized projects to make competitive business advantage.

5. Governance

A simple definition of IT Governance is how to manage IT,  as mere management of IT will not yield the desired results. After all, you can manage a group efficiently, but if they are producing things that do not matter, you have just managed to produce things that do not matter. Put simply, governance discipline is to ensure business effectiveness-doing the right things. Implement a governance framework with the leadership, organizational structures, and processes that ensure the organization’s IT sustains and extends the organization’s strategies and objectives.

 Delivering IT Services is complex and requires in-depth technical expertise. However, governing the delivery does not have to be complex, the more complex you make a process, the more likely it will not be followed. Good governance practices will ensure both IT effectiveness and efficiency, also, make sure not losing sight of the opportunities for growth, and measure risk as it relates to investing into that risk.

Ss as a digital CIO today, you have to execute a strategy for the long term, also, be tactical, and be operational ALL AT THE SAME TIME, from best practices to next practices, the road is rough, but keep the spirit up.


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