The IT Imperative – IT projects can often appear to be managed successfully to completion and yet no one is really happy. Work has been done, resources deployed and budgets met, but without the firm connections of accomplishment to specific benefits for the business, the value will not be recognised, and in many cases, probably has not really been properly delivered. It is no wonder that those who make financial commitments and decisions often deride IT projects as either too expensive or unnecessary.
It does not need to be this way.
Organisations can deliver changes today that provide real business benefits, but this process must be driven by business need and with full understanding of the elements involved, by both IT and the business.
By taking a systematic and strategic approach, clear, understandable and relevant benefits can be delivered to the business as it stands today, or by what can be achieved for tomorrow:
Process Effectiveness – By understanding the existing business environment and what it would look like if improved, processes can be optimised to be much more effective. This requires an analysis of the capabilities required to perform these processes and the kinds of application systems that would be necessary to provide those capabilities. The outcome is a streamlining of business processes tightly coupled with the systems required to support them, making them able to deliver more.
Operational Efficiency – In a similar vein, but looking for optimisation in the operational systems that support business processes, improvements can be made by investigating the technology architecture, and creating a better fit to the application systems that are relevant to the enterprise. Can data be re-distributed to be more effective? Could cloud-based services bring in flexibility? Can hardware be rationalised? The outcome should be cost and risk reduction by having the right technology to underpin the systems required by the business.
Automation Efficiency – With a view to future improvement, automation of existing manual or cumbersome technology solutions can reduce costs. Examples include the deployment of mobile technologies or increased use of virtualised environments. However, the gains promised in any of these areas can be dramatically compromised without suitable strategic direction, as many have discovered.
Opportunity Creation – Taking a strategic view of the business, rather than the technology, allows for new initiatives to be undertaken and new revenues generated. However, planning such a step needs a solid understanding of the risks, a way to resolve interdependencies and challenges from the existing structure as well as a clear way forward. If the benefits of new endeavours fail to materialise quickly or it is not clear where they have come from, initiatives are often deemed to have failed, when in reality the link between action and result has not been correctly attributed.
IT and business projects can deliver immediate and relevant benefits, but only if changes are driven, the organisation is internally correctly aligned and a strategic, clear and well-understood architecture is in place. The imperative for IT is to embrace this approach and work with those who know how to make it a reality.