A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Archive for January 2012

A Simple Tool that Yields Big Benefits

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Given enough time in IT management you are bound to face programs and major projects that are full of surprises and never achieve their intended results. In fact not all IT Programs are created equal. Some are as much focused on changing the business processes as they are in implementing technology. Some programs may present a significant threat to business users in the form of new work flows or even the elimination of their jobs. These programs have a very significant organizational change dimension and may even require some changes in the core culture of the company. Other technology upgrade projects may be almost invisible to the end users and require very little change in the way users go about their daily activities. Since IT programs and projects have such a wide spectrum of impacts, it is useful to be able to characterize and size the programs in a way that brings about the best governance approach.

For major programs that are large in scale (consist of multiple projects) and affect many different areas of an enterprise and as such present some fairly significant risk, the “Business Diamond” framework is a useful tool in assessing some of the very important aspects of the program. At a minimum this framework forces a program planner(s) to at least think about all of the possible scope and impact dimensions that characterize and define the program and begin to think about an appropriate governance structure to aid in a program’s success. This Business Diamond framework helps ensure a complete look at the project from an impact point of view. Professional service providers can use this framework as a guide for program assessments with their clients and internal IT organizations can use this framework to assess the size and impact of candidate projects. As a program progresses through the governance process, the downstream more detailed project planning including tasks, assigned resources and estimates can be organized around the dimensions of this framework.

Busines Diamond Tool

The Business Diamond Tool is useful in several areas including the initial characterization context for the program during a readiness assessment activity. It helps determine resources, key issues and approach to the organization and helps ensure a more complete view of the program’s impact. It is useful in early end-user and other stakeholder discussions to sound out key issues as well as discussing past initiatives and their overall success and it helps the executive stakeholders better understand the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and challenges. In addition the framework can be used to draw out the organization’s innate strengths and weaknesses in attempting the program. It also can be refined and decomposed into Enterprise architectural documentation as the project progresses. Finally the framework can be used as an easy context to map activities and deliverables and in a summary form for the “As Is” to the “To Be” transformation views and is a useful adjunct to full featured IT governance solutions as provided by uGovernIT.

The Business Diamond Tool is useful in guiding the early activities necessary to answer some very key questions which are very useful in understanding the program:

• How large is the program

• What are the dimensions of scope that need to be considered

• How large and complex are these dimensions

• What are the probable impacts on the business

• How is the program linked to the business strategy

• What are the expected ROM costs and timelines

• What are the primary risk factors

• How critical is formal organizational change management to the success

While not a substitute for detailed program planning, a discussion of the program with various stakeholders around the 5 dimensions of the Business Diamond framework will provide some real insight and help lay out an effective governance approach during the balance of the planning and implementation stages.

Written by Jeff Crowell

January 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Three Levels of Clients

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Jim Sutter, a career CIO and a respected IT thought leader, presented the notion of three levels of clients to his peers at Orange County CIO Round Table.  The framework is essentially a 3×3 grid with the three levels of clients that the CIO has to consider and three areas of focus.  The three levels of clients follow the Anthony model:  CEO, Management Committees at the top, management and supervision forming the middle layer, and associates and individual contributors at the lower layer.  The three areas of focus include strategy, services and applications.  The key point made by Jim is that the CIO has to cater to the three levels across the three focus areas.  The objectives are in conflict.  For example, the C-level is focused on being competitive while being cost-effective.  This leads to minimum functions and services from IT that meets the business needs, yet remain competitive.  The lower layer is more concerned about performance, reliability and ease of use.  This leads to the need for more business functions.  The Management and Supervision layer is concerned about optimal resource allocation and generally have differing priorities.

uGovernIT takes into account these three layers:  It provides a practical ticketing system, user facing wizards to help users quickly and easily make user requests, mobile module to help IT manage user requests quickly and change management modules to ensure the integrity of delivered services.  uGovernIT is focused on delivering IT services efficiently and caters to the lower layer.

It also includes an integrated Project and Resource Management System that includes a resource allocation and tracking system, asset management, and a sophisticated project request and triaging system to help prioritize the project request and help management track the projects costs, schedule, risk and assess the project performance.  This caters to the middle management layer by providing complete transparency on IT activities and makes it simple for business and IT to prioritize and manage projects.

uGovernIT comes with a set of customizable IT Dashboards based on business intelligence using IT analytics to help assess how well IT is performing, assess ROI of IT investments, manage portfolio of projects, allocate resources, conduct IT assessments, and maintain an IT Balanced Scorecard as a benchmark of the value created by technology.  These dashboards are aimed at providing insights to the C-level executive and management committees to help ensure that IT budgets and expenditures are the right size and weight and aligned to the business.

Written by Subbu Murthy

January 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

Posted in IT Governance

Going Live

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Our product uGovernIT went live last Monday.  The good news is that by and large it is very successful.  A few minor glitches were quickly fixed via patches. While the product was tested extensively by an independent test team, it lacked some of the rigor of a structured quality assurance plan.  Stress testing and gorilla testing were some of the glaring weaknesses.  We wanted to delay going live to enable us to build more rigor into our testing process, but our customer wanted to go live and did not accord us more time.  These time constraints forced us to take a few short-cuts in our testing process.  What saved us was a superior development team led by an able leader (our CTO).

uGovernIT is a fully integrated suite of IT Governance products to manage a variety of IT departments.  The philosophy is simple: be practical and provide 80 to 90% of the functionality needed at a fraction of the cost of comparable tools.  Equally important, uGovernIT’s vision is to provide an easy to use platform that can be deployed in a week or less. The product is designed for Small to Mid-Sized Enterprises who cannot afford to buy a plethora of tools and struggle to integrate them to provide meaningful insights into their IT expenditures and activities.  uGovernIT is well suited for IT departments with just a few IT resources to organizations with a few hundred IT Professionals.

This blog will probably be read a thousand times when our 1000th customer comes on line, and probably not read by any now, save a few of those who know our product today.  However, I did want to brag to the world that uGovernIT is alive and well.  Blogs should not be used as advertorials, but the 1000th reader two years from now will understand.

Written by Subbu Murthy

January 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Posted in IT Governance