The IT Imperative – IT projects are always challenging, but increasing complexity means that companies face greater difficulty in ensuring that IT delivers the promised business benefits. Companies and individuals also struggle to demonstrate the direct linkages between IT investment and results. This is not only highly desirable for the organisation, it is also important for the individuals concerned; their value to their employer will typically be measured by their proven impact on successful outcomes, not by effort on work in progress.
Despite these many challenges, others have already trod this path and delivered beneficial results. The secret is to understand what drives these successful initiatives and follow their lead:
Change imperative – In IT projects, things should not be allowed to ‘just happen’, or be delayed or overtaken by events. Technology thrives on change, but even those most closely involved in technology and innovation, fear it. This is not the right way to achieve success. Changes must be embraced, their impact clearly evaluated and driven through in order to align, meet and deliver against business goals.
Complexity challenge – Delivering successful IT projects of any importance was never easy, but is now even harder. IT management is stretched in conflicting directions by resource constraints, technology advances and business expectations. A different approach is required to avoid falling into the comfortable trap of trying to get away with simply ‘keeping the wheels turning’ or delaying issues in the hope that something turns up. Complexity needs to be understood and controlled.
Strategic drive – IT benefits are often misunderstood by those in control of the direction of the business or managing finances. To be honest, they are also often badly represented by those who are too close to the problem. To avoid the pitfalls of IT being labelled ‘costly and unnecessary’ the links between strategic imperatives for the business and realities of project delivery have to be clearly established. IT needs a strategic architecture that integrates business needs and processes with technology requirements and deliverables.
Structured delivery – There are many rigorous methods and methodologies available, but slavish adherence to any one is not likely to be sufficiently all embracing or flexible to lead to success. Project delivery needs to be focused, well structured and carefully managed through an experienced blend of well-proven best practices from business and IT methodologies.
Benefit clarity – Results need to have recognisable and demonstrable benefits for the organisation, its competitive position and the individuals involved. Critically the impact of investment in technology, systems and architectures must be explicitly linked to the actual benefits delivered. This traceability ensures that the actual and complete return on investment and contributions of those involved is well understood.
This is the first in a 7 part series exploring The IT Imperative with articles following weekly covering:
- The Change Imperative for IT
- Pressing Business and IT Challenges
- A Flexible Foundation
- Delivering Success
- Demonstrable Breadth of Value
- Delivering Real Benefits
To help you give your own IT change initiatives we will be publishing our Significant Seven Imperatives for All IT Projects at the end of the series