uGovernIT

A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Posts Tagged ‘Managing IT

The C-Suite needs to wake up to the Digital Age!

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Background

At the Avasant CIO Digital Connect in Washington DC earlier this month, Kevin Parikh, CEO of Avasant,remarked “Today’s digital technology options are creating opportunities for government and corporations to be more nimble and better serve their constituents”.  He then posed a question to us (Jay Ferro, CIO, American Cancer Society;  Vivek Kalra, Senior Vice President, Tech Mahindra; and Subbu Murthy,  CEO, UGovernIT) sitting on the panel:  “How does digital innovation impact how we design and deliver technology to the Enterprise?”

The Old Paradigm 

Over the past decade, many IT Advisers, including yours truly have been canvassing the idea that IT needs to be aligned to the enterprise, IT should be an enabler, IT should be scalable, flexible, so on and so forth.  In an earlier blog post,  I identified that for the CIOs to run IT as a business, they need to develop an IT Governance mechanism that covers four key aspects:

The first and the most critical aspect is safety and security of the enterprise. This implies providing a scalable, reliable, and secure Enterprise Architecture.  It should be pointed out that the Enterprise Architecture is not just technology components, but using a framework like Zachman, it encompasses people, process and technology.  While cost efficiency, getting value out of IT and innovation are essential components of aligning IT to business, these do not matter if the enterprise is at risk. Target, Home Depot and now Anthem Blue Cross serve as grim reminders as to how critical managing risk is to the enterprise.  So the first pillar in managing IT as a business is Security and Mitigating Risk.

The notion of shared services helps IT manage and deliver shared services efficiently. This helps IT leadership use the same service framework within the department and extend its use to other functions in the business.  The second pillar in managing IT as a business is Shared Services.

Since there is usually more work than resources available, one challenge is how to identify and prioritize the IT workload?  The most effective way is to proactively work with users to enhance the value of IT delivered.  Traditional project management tools do not address this interaction between users and IT.  The key to success is to bridge the IT-User-Executive gap by providing a practical, efficient, and most important, a non-onerous process of managing IT workload.  The third pillar in managing IT as a business is Effective Demand Management.

The CIO has earned the seat at the table, but will not be able to keep it if the CIO is not helping the Enterprise meet its Strategic, Operational and Budgetary Objectives.  This requires the CIO to be the change agent driving efficiency and innovation to the Enterprise.  This also requires the CIO to align IT plans to the business plans and pay close attention to IT spend versus value delivered.  The fourth pillar in managing IT as a business is Aligning IT Spend to Business Needs.

The Digital Age and the Paradigm Shift!

As I reflected on the impact of the Digital Age, I recognize that the paradigm CIO’s use is top-down.  Nothing wrong with it, except that the innovation is not just happening top down.   Innovation is also, in fact more often than not, happening bottom up.  Users are demanding more and oppose any structure that inhibits them.  If top down design worked, why did the Taxi companies not anticipate Uber? By no means I am suggesting that we abandon IT Governance. Nor am I suggesting we abandon traditional IT alignment models.  I am suggesting that we need to incorporate the users in the innovation cycle.  We have to abandon top-down only models and add the bottom up model that keeps the user experience as a key component of developing the IT architecture.  Top down models focus on data and users focus on experience which are workflow-centric.

Janet Schijns, Chief Marketing Technologist, Verizon shared a great example.  When she manages her flights via the web, there is great help in making reservations but very little that is beneficial to the experience of the specific passenger on the specific flight.  For example:  Did your luggage make the connecting flight?  If there are delays, how are you rescheduled?

A Sandwich Model!

Borrowing from an old design paradigm,  we have to switch from the top down design model to the sandwich model.  By no means the sandwich model implies that we abandon the fundamentals we have all learnt as CIOs. But it does mean that we have to actively incorporate user-centric workflows built on easy to use platforms as part of our IT architecture, manage risk (not design rigid systems that eliminate risk), allow users to innovate, embrace change rapidly and harness the rapid changes in technology.

Implications of the Sandwich Model

Not that I have the crystal ball, but I feel that the CIO’s role will be very different from the present.  While CIOs will continue to be the change agent, and the bridge between Business and IT, the role will shift to becoming the “hermit” who will facilitate innovation.  From a technology perspective, there will be a radical shift to mobile computing.  This will force a fundamental shift from large monolithic Enterprise Systems such as SAP to modular, workflow centric mobile applications.  I hope so, I have spent millions building technology on this principle.

Written by Subbu Murthy

October 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Revisiting IT Analytics

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We are so involved with day to day challenges, we seldom get the time to use some of the same tools we are delivering to our customers. The solution is quite simple – we should think and act like CEOs of an IT company. Using Key Performance Metrics (KPMs) to help manage your IT as an enterprise, IT Analytics provides you the ability to prioritize your demand and allocate resources that best serves the interest of the enterprise.

From the IT perspective, Analytics can be classified into four types: Financial, Business Alignment, Request Source and Resource Analytics. Financial Analytics help understand IT using a Project Portfolio approach. Business Alignment Analytics focus on the value IT brings to the Enterprise. Resource Analytics helps understand how to deliver technology efficiently. Request Analytics helps identify the source of the technology needs and indicates the technology maturity of the organization.

As an illustration of the use of Analytics, consider the challenge of managing a portfolio of projects. It is very difficult to visualize the project performance without developing a common project assessment framework. Yet, common frameworks have the challenge that each project is unique and may have specific characteristics. To help resolve this issue, an IT Analytic can be developed to provide a project score. The project score can be used to assess the impact of the project using a Portfolio Management approach. Suppose we want to assess the project portfolio using a set of Financial Analytics. We can define each project using a common set of evaluators using measures such as budget variance, schedule variance, scope changes (“churn”), and also a set of measures that are unique to the project. These measures are weighted specific to each project but all contribute to a common scale such as 0 to 100. To illustrate the use of Business Alignment Analytics, we can use the same project portfolio, except the projects are now scored on the value they bring to the Enterprise and how closely they match to the business needs. Similarly, we can develop Request Analytics which essentially map the project scores to requesting organizations. Early stage companies may show a higher use of technology, say for example, in engineering and marketing to drive innovation and create demand, whereas mature enterprises will show a balanced use of technology across the enterprise. As technology is resource intensive, Resource Analytics (utilization and demand) are essential to triage and develop an IT plan that best meets the enterprise needs.

Using IT Analytics is a simple and effective mechanism to visualize each project in the portfolio. Clearly, the Project Portfolio Analytic does not replace the functions of the PMO, but facilitates management by providing a mechanism to quickly see trends and issues, and drill down to understand the direction and develop a IT strategic plan.

Written by Subbu Murthy

February 20, 2015 at 1:00 am

Using the Technology Capability Framework as a Guide

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A useful context for understanding the overall IT governance requirement for medium to large IT organizations can be found in the following Technology Capability Framework.

The framework helps enterprises better understand the objectives of IT governance and the associated IT leadership orientation and capabilities for 3 major maturity levels of governance in an orderly progression. Once this framework is understood, IT Leadership can conscientiously plan and take actions that build an IT governance capability that provides ever-increasing value to the business.

The Service Management maturity level is focused on efficiency in handling a variety of user requests including help with user technical problems, requests for new capabilities and services such as setting up a new employee with the required hardware and application services or in managing IT incidents and delivering solutions to restore services. Service Management can also help with application deployments as well as tracking and managing the configuration of deployed resources and assets. Emphasis is on quickly resolving requests with solutions that work the first time and controlling the impact to achieve a known condition. Reporting against SLAs for problem response is provided along with a variety of user defined dash boards reporting on active requests by priority, tickets created by category. Also trend reporting, response time/trends and days to resolve by priority are a few of the views that are useful. User satisfaction input at the completion of a problem resolution is helpful along with periodic user satisfaction surveys for both the direct users and their management. A good service management process framework is based on ITIL best practices and reduced process variation is a key objective.

IT leadership orientation for this level of IT governance is focused on developing processes in conjunction with business users for such processes as on boarding new employees, acquiring hardware and software for employees and standing up infrastructure for new locations. IT leadership must develop relationships and interact with the business unit management to understand its needs. In addition IT leadership focuses on standards, processes and training for technical IT resources to ensure an efficient service management operation that meets the enterprise needs.

The Project Management maturity level is focused on justifying, planning and executing major project and IT technology initiatives that involve significant costs and resources and inherent risks. Capabilities for this level include easy to use standardized project plan construction, understanding and visualizing resource and infrastructure constraints to achieve on time results. In addition the governance application must help users understand and visualize resources and estimated costs at completion and measure the changing direction of risks. It is also important to highlight problems and constraints for timely resolution so it is clear to the user what action is required to address the issue.

End users and management users of the project management governance application must be able to see and understand projects with related dependencies. The application should help users understand and visualize total portfolio resources and costs and understand and visualize categories and enterprise impact as well as aid in project/initiative prioritization and rejection or postponement. The governance application should allow for a classification of the project and enable a clear linkage back to the core business requirement(s).

IT leadership orientation for this level of IT governance is focused on working with business management and building relationships. IT leadership interacts with the business unit management to understand their needs and define approval and review processes, ensuring the appropriate business unit participation in the project/initiative and fostering PM skills training and best practice disciplines through well understood PMO structures. IT Leadership works with business management to determine user discretionary spending limits and other thresholds and incorporates these into the application work flow and user authorities. Connectivity to mobile devices is also required for users of the project management governance application.

The Resource Management maturity level is focused on enabling the longer term business blueprint and enabling major impacts that can transform the organization. Deep and powerful analytics are central to achieving this goal. At this level, IT management works with the prioritized project portfolio to determine budget needs for the current operating budget and capital needs over the planning horizon. The resource management governance application helps the IT leadership understand and visualize the flow down of business requirements into IT requirements. Project lists and dashboards help both IT leadership and business management understand and visualize the total enterprise portfolio associated cost and resource requirements. Summarized views of resource requirements help ensure adequate management of the resource demands by resource type and help avoid project/initiative slowdowns due to resource shortages. Dashboards are based on business intelligence and use data analytics to help assess how well IT is performing. This includes assessing ROI of IT investments, managing a portfolio of projects, conducting IT assessments, and maintaining an IT Balanced Scorecard as a benchmark of the value created by technology investments.

In this maturity level of governance, IT Leadership has a “Seat at the Executive Table” and participates in business planning and strategy. The capability of dashboards and the analytical capability to understand data and causal relationships promote new and powerful understanding of the business dynamics. IT Leadership takes the lead in this type of information discovery and presentation for the benefit of the executive team. IT Leadership becomes a trusted member of the executive team to provide fact based analysis that can be trusted for critical decision-making.

 

Written by Jeff Crowell

June 8, 2012 at 9:39 am