Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Leveraging the Management Framework to Run High-Performance IT

Running high performance IT is not magic, and it's not circumstantial; it's the result of discipline and hard work.

With the overwhelming growth of information, a dynamic business environment, and fierce competition, IT becomes the decisive success factor for the business’s long-term perspective. Information Technology is also a huge and expensive investment in most organizations. IT Engineering practices and management disciplines require systematic thinking, structural approaches, and problem-solving capabilities. The leader of IT needs to focus with his/her peers by putting together a solid IT Management Framework that matches the needs of the business, have a high-professional management team, and let his/her team execute for running high-performance IT organization, and running IT as the business.

A well-defined framework enables cross-functional communication and develops interrelational management processes: A well-designed IT management framework harnesses effective communication, helps reduce business tensions, frictions, and conflicts that arise to enforce trustful business relationship; enables managing processes to share concepts and ideas with clarity, streamlines two-way feedback flow seamlessly. As the CIO, you must lead the efforts of the department, but you also have to facilitate communications with stakeholders. Trust is the key, which means IT needs to behave more like an integral part of the business. The trust also means IT and business work closely to deliver the business solution with optimal speed. The well-built IT management framework helps to facilitate IT and non-IT organizations collaborating on creating the organization's vision, strategy, objectives, mission, and plans. If IT doesn't completely understand what the stakeholders are asking for; or if the stakeholders don’t understand what IT is delivering, the results will reflect that disconnect. The quality of IT management and engagement with its company’s core activities doesn’t or shouldn’t depend on who is in the CIO’s chair at any given moment, but rather on the establishment of good governance practices, sound architecture, and effective processes to achieve high level IT maturity.

A well-developed IT framework enables Information Management coherence: Information and its lifecycle are complex. Enterprises generally have governance and compliance rules on the information. Information is the lifeblood of the enterprise, but if not properly managed, it becomes at worst-case liability and in the best case an underutilized asset. To run a people-centric and insightful digital organization, you need to utilize technology and manage the information lifecycle in a structural way. A well-developed IT framework enables IT stands out as a value-added function by managing information effectively and achieving information management coherence. It can abstract business and customer insight from explosive information, and bring to the table innovative solutions that meet customers’ needs. If the business expects IT to be a driver of innovation and change, and then the IT function needs to be flexible and responsive and even proactive to synchronize with core business activities and master information to unleash business potential. Information Management helps to bridge the gap for building the trustful relationship between IT and business. The business needs to know what IT can deliver and enter a dialogue about what best serves the goals of the business. IT needs to be telling the business about the opportunities and possibilities based on reliable data and refined information. The Board has to ensure management and governance are the interdependent and complementary disciplines that are both enabled by high mature digital IT.

Put the IT management framework in place to map the strategic objectives into KPIs: The business goals of IT is about leveraging information and technology to optimize costs, improve operations, and increase revenue. Therefore, every new technology adopted must facilitate the business but also bring down the incremental cost of growth and the time to market. It is also important to measure and validate the ROI. Make sure the executive team first understands what it needs to drive future business growth. A well-developed framework helps to map the strategic objectives into KPIs, and then determine what IT investment will accelerate changes and enable business growth. IT management needs to work out how they affect the business growth or efficiency via some business output measures, such as “Sales win percentage,” “Margin Contribution,” or “Yield on investment.” IT cost optimization is on the top priority list of the CIO's performance agenda across the vertical sectors. Cost optimization metrics should reflect on how they have been able to impact the top and bottom-line business competitiveness. Once they do that, they can persuade the business with data on how IT can make a unique, valuable, and independent contribution to the business outcomes, in order to reinvent IT reputation from the cost center to a value creator.

As CIOs will continue to be put on the front line to run IT as a change agent, they need to really understand the goals of the business and synchronize with those business goals. They need to ensure their organization is ready for change, space and time are made to scope, plan, and execute, but not via ad-hoc activities, but leveraging the framework approach and taking a structural management discipline. They also have to advocate for "departmental immersion" and other strategies to help IT become more integrated and aware of the organization as a whole for improving the overall organizational maturity. IT becomes the linchpin of the digitalization.


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