Thursday, June 18, 2020

Assess IT Applications by Setting Good Criteria

Make an assessment of IT applications by setting good criteria and reporting/analytics about what you have, who uses it and how much, who pays for it, how much it costs, etc.

Due to the increasing speed of change and the overwhelming growth of information, business executives really do see value in emerging digital technologies. And they're strong believers that the future will rely heavily upon information technology. At the same time, they're frustrated with "outdated" IT-led business solutions that don't live up to their expectations.

To reinvent IT as a strategic business partner, IT organizations must speed up to deliver qualified business solutions timely. Make a “lean and mean” approach in which you assess all applications on the following criteria:

Business value: IT application development can add value to any organization if it understands the various business lines needs and wants; it can provide cross line synergies by understanding the various functions, providing efficient interfaces between lines; and bringing up the most business value. IT management needs to clarify the expected organizational internal directions and goals, understand the direction of the IT industry, and ensure that application development does not proceed without a "clear business rationale."

In many IT organizations that get stuck at a low level of maturity, sometimes, IT focuses on overcoming technology challenges, without solving business problems and creating business value. Or the significant portion of their applications are out of date, but still running to support business activities. They are unable to demonstrate the value of application portfolio management. Thus, IT leaders should play a key role in driving business improvement and make sure their application development as evolutionary innovation efforts to deliver business value.

User satisfaction: The digital era upon us is about people. Customer-facing applications are critical as at the end of the day, they generate revenue for the business. Point out that customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster the better ways the application can perform and optimize every touchpoint of customer experience. An intuitive user interface makes high-quality software even more qualified. Customers are the center of innovation.

Many times, a lack of user adoption is one of the issues to fail new software applications. It’s important to empower users, get users or customers to choose the ideal solution for their work; from this, IT can build up a profile of a user or group of users and understand their work-style. If there is an outage, it normally has a direct impact on revenue and draws consequently attention of the top management. Analyzing defects gives you information on where to improve your products/services, and prevent similar defects in the future. The goal is to improve customer satisfaction and make continuous deliveries.

Support/training cost (business and IT): The majority of IT organizations spend a significant amount of resources and budgets to “keep the lights on.” IT management should scrutinize things like IT budget, maintenance costs, new software development costs, training, etc. They need to ensure that IT supports the achievement of strategic goals and tactical business objectives. IT delivers perceived added value products or services at a reasonable cost, and IT delivers to operational and service level agreements and commitments. The budget should never be an excuse to not provide the organization with the skill sets it needs to move forward. Training doesn't have to be expensive to be impactful.

With the “Software As A Service” on-demand model, the business can order commoditized IT services from third-party vendors easily. IT managers need to make an objective assessment - which apps should be built in house and which ones can be bought from vendors; the goal is to manage cost scientifically and shorten the development cycle significantly. IT executives should also enforce IT governance/oversight to guarantee that development maintains conformance to that business need, and the combination of quality and price for any given service feature is competitive for delighting customers and comparable to the marketplace from a cost/performance perspective.

Skills available and alignment: IT skill gap is a reality. The highly technical programmers and engineers with deep knowledge and enriched experience who can handle the heads down technical tasks are always hard to find. Specialized IT generalists who have the right mix of technical, business and leadership skills are also crucial for management and senior leadership positions in today’s IT organizations to accelerate IT transformation, as the pool of talent with business savvy and tech knowledge will be drawn dry quickly.

Both attitude and aptitude count, make sure talent alignment with the strategic direction of IT. Every true IT pro is behind the curve on specific skill sets and wants to learn new stuff. Well define the updated competency model, assess the talent’s overall professional competency to solve problems, strike the right balance of learning capability, character, skills, knowledge, communication, and energy within the team. Being able to succinctly identify what training is needed and develop those necessary skill sets to the business are critical deliverables for organizational goal achievement

Vendor viability: IT vendor relationships are important to improve products/services reliability and innovativeness. A trustful IT vendor focuses on process optimization, customer-tailored, on value deliveries, and there's always an opportunity for improvement and delivering “grade" or "range" solutions. Great IT vendors do not necessarily deliver "complete solutions," but, the best possible solutions, help customers overcome real business obstacles or add value via well-defined KPIs, that's the key to building up a win-win situation.

The innovation capabilities IT vendors can provide to their clients are to connect the dots and deliver premium applications. By offering a range of solutions, each with different results and budgets and risk profile, the vendor can actually help clients surface and resolve their internal conflicts and improve IT manageability and innovation competency. Those IT vendors work with their clients across industries, across cultures, accumulate many success stories, can help their customers avoid pitfalls, or modernize legacy applications via borrowing the fresh idea from a totally different industry or culture.

Make an assessment of IT applications by setting good criteria and reporting/analytics about what you have, who uses it and how much, who pays for it, how much it costs, etc. Take the “lean and mean” approach, share some best practices about how to rate/rank/optimize the application portfolio. At the end of the day, everything that an IT organization does is for the end customers, make some quick wins and use this to support other initiatives, and focus more on governance and long-term benefits.


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