Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What are Key Practical Steps to Improve IT Performance?

The first thing is to listen to the other side - "the users."

How to achieve IT efficiency, effectiveness, and agility is the goal every CIO wants to pursue, however, It is not easy because it requires changing the culture and getting the buy-in of the IT resources. Also, in reality, the problem is that quite often productivity metrics are nearly nonexistent in organizations for most of IT functions and monitoring is not an easy task. Though the situation varies, still, there are a couple of key steps can be shared in improving IT performance across vertical sectors.

  1. Listen: The first thing is to listen to the other side - "the users": Find out what their pain points are and what issues they face, and you need to understand and agree with people across your organization what does success look like. Only then can you define a plan to improve performance. It is amazing how often this step gets ignored, but the improvement has no meaning if you do not know what the target is.  
  1. Define a compelling purpose and vision for the IT team: Make a seamless IT-business alignment to ensure that this is well aligned with the purpose of the total organization. Develop a strategy that is focused on building capability and closing the gap in your success measures over time. Select an IT service framework which can provide a road-map to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of IT services. It could be implemented gradually with Priority to high-risk areas, and play a very important role in providing guidance and a common focus/language for the team.  
  1. Cross-Communication with different parties: (1) Be honest to stakeholders. Tell them what you know about things which are working well and items which are not working well. Tell them how you plan to work on improving them. (2) Talk to business about where you should focus more, sell the strategic plan and demonstrate the strategic partnership by helping business select technology and help them think through the full cost model of the purchase. (3) Demonstrate operational leadership by being close to the user community on different levels (power user, some general user base) and getting the issues across levels, speaking the language business speaks in.
  1. Develop an Action Plan for Implementation: After making a strategic plan, and communicate with the business, a detailed action plan is drawn with all key activities taken as inputs. The detailed action plan should carry the important things like a timeline, individuals responsible for carrying out the tasks, any shortfall in the completion of tasks and what stretch targets are taken to compensate the shortfalls. That responsibility should be committed enough to ensure that the tasks and assignments are completed on time. Automate routine tasks, provide structured information, knowledge sharing. Provide whatever training and support your team needs to develop the skills 
  1. Define how you will measure success in meeting that purpose and vision: Ensure that these measures are quantitative, and implement whatever mechanisms you need to be able to gather the data. Your measures should cover all areas that contribute to value creation including service quality, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and financial outcomes. These represent well as a balanced scorecard. 
Always keep in mind, people matter: Achieve progress by measuring the key objectives for all your team members in a mix of team and individual objectives and highlight examples of progress and performance you want to encourage.


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