Monday, September 1, 2014

Defining IT Business Management

 When IT speaks the business language, credibility increases.

Nowadays, IT has permeated to every corner of business and weave into every core capability of the business. IT is the business. If we were to extend this to "IT Business Management for the Business," it would help emphasize that IT is not a business in its own right, rather a business whose purpose is to enable the core business or drive business growth. In other words, IT should be the same as any other business unit - defining the business goals which it will deliver against and the measures by which success can be assessed.

IT Maturity: Broadly speaking, at the lower maturity level, IT is an enabling capability to support the business. However, when moving up the maturity, IT can become the game-changer, and innovation drivers to bring the new opportunity for business growth; nonetheless, that enablement and its effectiveness can be measured and value attributed which the business recognizes and endorses. IT maturity also depends on how it manages the changes: What usually happens is that IT couldn't get the business engaged and then ran out of runway. IT staff are trained early on to focus on change control as a sort of promotion to the production process and they aren't usually skilled in how it happens. The tendency is to think of the application change as the end when really, it's about the middle. Until the structure is put in place to know what is being delivered and how both enablement and effectiveness will escape IT as well as value.

Transparency: One of the goals, transparency, is being blocked because IT hasn’t put the systems in place to support it. When you are pushed to show transparency, IT usually revert to "look how many hours" not "here is what we delivered." That causes IT to look at efficiency (which is internal), vs. effectiveness (which is external). Mobility solutions, in particular, have come a long way with the advent of technology. This combination leads to the transparency side of the fence. Priorities (business Value) are clear and no longer look arbitrary. When IT speaks the business language, credibility increases. Metrics allow for true discussions of cost/value trade-offs. Changing the approach shows respect for the business and their work too.

Watch front window, not just the rearview: More important thing is the principles, drive to measurable value as defined by the business, measure outputs as well as inputs, recognize and organize change. CIOs, as much as they want to focus on their peers and the board, are looking in their rearview mirror too much, afraid of what will bite them. They need to develop a sound IT Management Framework so the senior managers can run the department keeping him/her informed as the processes required. Included in that are items to cover off IT Governance and Project Governance as well. This will go a long way in helping the CIO (Senior IT Leader) focus on being a valued partner to the business. However, more often, a CIO is only "as empowered" to create change/value as those he/she has reporting direct. With respect to increased business scrutiny, it is true that one needs to go beyond the accounting, budgeting and charging for IT services, but when done right those are the fundamental processes, along with asset management, that set up the ability to provide higher value financial and governance activities such as the service evaluation, service provisioning, cost optimization, investment analysis, and demand modeling.

At the age of the digital, information is the lifeblood of the business, IT management has to become an integral part of business management, running IT as business and doing more with innovation.


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