Holiday Alignment Wishes

December 22, 2008

 

As we wrap up a year that many would like to forget, let’s at least be grateful for the good things that have happened.  Come on, there had to be at least one….

 

The holiday season is a great time to think about the past year, and get ready for the new one.  With that in mind, here are some Holiday Alignment Wishes I have:

 

o   IT Leaders will stop whining about how Business leaders “just don’t get it” and will actually go DO something about it.

o   Business leaders will stop blaming everyone (including IT) for their problems and look deeply at their own processes.

o   CIOs will step up to the plate and show how they can add real business value to the organization

o   CEOs/CFOs/COOs  will listen to their CIO

o   EVERYONE (CEOs, CIOs, IT leaders, Business leaders) will get over themselves and start working together to figure out how to improve their organization and make it successful.

 

This is a great time to take a look in the mirror and ask a simple question, “Am I part of the problem?”  Then ask yourself one more, “What am I going to do about it?”

 

Here’s to hoping 2009 is Happy, Health and Safe!!!

 

Advertisements

Aligning Technology to User’s Needs

December 17, 2008

  

Had a client presentation the other day where we were reporting out on an assessment we did of the client’s infrastructure and IT processes.  The client asked us what presentation materials we would need, and we simply said we needed a large screen and we would bring the projector.  When we arrived, we were taken to a very nice conference room that was about 15’ x 30’.  At one end was a very nice 42” plasma screen.  We were told we could use that screen, there was not a larger one in the room.  We hooked up and away we went.  Problem was, if you were in the back of the room, you couldn’t read what was on the screen.  Yes you could see it, but you couldn’t read it.  Good thing we had handouts as well.

This happens all the time.  Organizations deploy technology (the 42” plasma screen with all the bells and whistles), without thinking through how it will be used.  I am sure everyone in the organization was very excited to have the latest and greatest technology at their disposal, until someone at the back of the room actually had to try to read the screen.

We made it through the presentation and averted disaster, but I kept thinking: how could it have been better?  A larger screen could have been used, or they could have placed the screen on the 30’ wall, but that would have meant blocking a window (to the lobby); possibly having multiple screens available.  Maybe there were some hook-ups in/under the table that you could plug in to so you could see it on your laptop?  If there were, no one in the room knew about it.  It was obvious no one thought to ask how the technology was going to be used, and if the technology being deployed was appropriate.  After all, it was only a conference room, and anyone can figure out what to do there.  How often do we make that assumption?

 So, how do you improve situations like this?  It’s easy.  When deploying even the simplest technology, make sure you understand how the user intends to utilize it, and work with them to make sure they are using it to optimize both the technology and the user’s process.  Simple conversations that take a little bit of time will go a long way toward better alignment with the business.

Let me know your thoughts!


Enhance the Value of IT

December 8, 2008

 

Michal Krigsman’s recent blog post, ‘IT has no inherent value’ summarizes a research paper, MANAGING THE REALIZATION OF BUSINESS BENEFITS FROM IT INVESTMENTS, in which the authors present a model for benefits realization, and make the argument technology by itself offers no benefits nor creates any value.  While this argument can easily be defended, the same argument can be made about just about any tool or device out there.  A paint brush has no value by itself, but put it in the hands of a talented artist, and a masterpiece may emerge.  The same can be said for technology, unless you use it, and use it properly, it will add no value. 

Before we throw all the problems with technology on the user (business) community, the IT community has a stake in this as well.  Because, like it or not, when a technology project does not meet the desired objectives, IT gets blamed, even though it may have been the “business” that failed.  So, how can IT add more value?  Because of the unique position that IT holds – involved in every area of an organization, like a blanket covering a bed, IT leadership has some great opportunities to help an organization improve. 

Here are some ways to enhance the value of IT:

1)      Figure out how the business makes money, and understand the process.  This may be common sense, but how often is it common practice?  Find out how you can improve that process by either enhancing the revenue stream or reducing costs.

2)      Be a champion / catalyst for improvement – not just change.  It has been said, every improvement is a change, but every change is not an improvement.  Don’t just promote change for the sake of change.  Promote change for the sake of improvement.  Once you have done #1, this will be easier.

3)      Work across the organization to bring people together – be a collaborator.  Since IT is involved in every facet of an organization, who better to bring people together when there are issues, or to help solve a problem.  Speaking of problems:

4)      Solve a problem for a business owner.  Find out what problems the line of business leaders are having, then use technology to help solve their problem.  Ideally, this would be technology that already exists in the organization, but is not being utilized to its fullest extent, or it may be new technology.

5)      Provide and support the technology tools the business owners need to improve.  Work with the business leaders to understand their needs and what tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.  Make sure you are providing them the support they need to be successful.

6)      Educate business owners on technology.  This is a constant and it never ends. Constantly be educating the business leadership on what technology is available, and how it can help them improve.

Getting started on these is relatively simple, but not easy.  Then again, anything worth doing rarely is.