Monday, February 15, 2016

Three Digital Fatigues IT Needs to Overcome

To overcome digital fatigues, IT has to provide both business and technical insight into how they bring success to the company as a whole.

Digital transformation is an intense, even a stressful journey. It’s more like a sweeping approach to alter many things underneath the surface of the business, such as value, process, culture or behavior, etc. When the need for a significant digital shift is identified, IT often plays a crucial role in “gluing” all important hard elements and soft factors of the business to build differentiated digital capabilities. Therefore, it is a heavy duty for IT to adapt and innovate. But how can IT overcome digital fatigues and revitalize the business to achieve its vision?    

Strategic Leakage: Although IT plays a more crucial role in the business today, many IT organizations are overloading and under-delivery. The major contributing factors are “ineffective leadership,” "insufficient resources," “de-motivated teams,” and the classic “can’t say no,” mentality. Often there is a strategic leakage-the misalignment of IT and the business strategy and the disconnect between strategic goals and employees' performance mapping. In most organizations, the business strategy is an archived document by which daily decisions are rarely driven. To fix the strategic leakage, the first step is to create a situation where the main strategic performance drivers are well and commonly understood cross-functionally on the leadership team. This is where prioritization should take place; not on the solutions (projects, IT being only one ilk), but on the opportunities. The result of this exercise should be a roadmap of business initiatives vs. IT projects, and business strategy management vs. IT project portfolio management. It’s also important to fix dysfunctional roles and relationships between the "business" and "IT." In short, if one of the parties is not up to the task of managing their roles and responsibility in the relationships, it will fail and project overloading is just one of the symptoms of digital fatigues.

Decision Silos: There are many decision silos in the decision process of the business – and the study confirms this. What has to happen in organizations is to connect decision makers across departments to understand the impact of their decisions. For example, IT is delivering a project, while business expects IT to deliver a solution (including a change of existing business process, legal and financial aspects, marketing inside and outside of the organization). In such a case, IT is proud of delivering the item, business is very disappointed about the delivery and asks for then other steps, IT is very disappointed about the 'sudden change of deliverables' and in the end, none wins and the project is called a failure, because of the confusion about WHAT should be delivered? To analyze the root cause of decisions silos and “get lost in communication” symptom, IT leaders and management should trace further what kind of decisions cause churn in downstream project units? IT planners and project teams often find it difficult to stay connected with the perspectives of all the decision-makers around them and incorporate them into their plans. Thus, to overcome digital fatigue caused by decision silos, the best practice is to leverage social collaboration platforms and effective digital tools to harness cross-functional communication and advocate data-based decisions.

Project fragile: The high percentage of IT project failure rate is the other cause of serious IT fatigue. Every organization has a tolerance for the variance which, when exceeded, produces a failure scenario and results in a structural impact, if not the cancellation of a project. The small things are what cause large problems, and every such failure causes huge resource waste and human cost. If engaging in a large project, it is usually about transformational change, not incremental change. Most large projects are that the nature of the challenge is not understood. And the nature of the challenge is people, not technology. These changes also require a significant change in the lives of the people involved. More specifically, there are a few people oriented major reasons for projects to fail: (1). Lack of talented people with mixed strength and skills working on the project. (2) Every factor about large projects is rooted in the fact that people need to understand what is changing, what the impacts of those changes are, how they fit in the new world, and how they can participate in the change. Can they learn the new technology or will they be let go at the end? Will there be room for these employees in the new world? How does this affect their perceived expertise? All these things lead to people being afraid to commit to the new solution. (3). Poor Management: Managers micromanage when they have no knowledge of what they are micromanaging. They also make promises without checking with the team, do not supply the necessary resources, or engage the team to deliver, and lack of clear communication upon the people concerns. etc. Therefore, developing the principles and practices to improve project management success rate is an important aspect to overcome IT fatigue.

For IT to break the cycle, from the ‘weakest link," to superglue and overcome digital fatigues, it has to provide both business and technical insight into how they bring success to the company as a whole instead of being a commodity overcoming the "bad" experiences from the past, it needs to be proactive and value-added for building business-IT relationship, improving IT project success rate and overall performance, and pursuing long-term goals with strategic perspectives.


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