A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Posts Tagged ‘Project Management

A Lesson in IT Management – A Confession (Part 1)

leave a comment »

As a consultant CIO and a CEO/Investor of a company producing the next generation IT Governance tool, I am going to make a confession. Eventually I will produce a You Tube Video as well, but for now this confession blog  is in three parts as the results of my mistake are still unraveling.


The story resolves around my backyard.  I purchased a new home about an year and a half back, and the Home Owners Association was after me to complete the backyard – a covenant that I had unwillingly signed when I purchased the home.  Like all CIOs, I went through the RFI/RFP process (proudly displaying my procurement skills to my wife). Estimates came in, but the range was not in my reach, at least not with the market uncertainties.  So I decided to manage it myself .  I request the reader not to jump to conclusions yet.


I sought help from the builder and gained access to a landscape guy they knew – of course, the builder would not give their names officially.  The miracles of networking worked and I had this unlicensed contractor start work (again do not jump to conclusions as yet).  The proposed cost structure was fixed price with 25% advance and payment for materials on-demand.  The process was going smoothly till I decided to save further by sourcing directly from the contractor who knew the manufacturing centers as opposed to distributors.  To make a long story short, the materials were delivered at half the price and I was gleefully bragging about it to my wife, when I discovered they were the wrong colors (wives do not forgive such mistakes), so I paid for reshipping the right product – a small price to pay for the huge savings I had reaped.  But disaster struck. Before the right product arrived my landscape guy disappeared from the scene. I was now stuck with a partially done backyard and a non-trivial loss.  How did I recover from this? How many mistakes did I commit?  Am I the first CIO to make a mistake in sourcing?  What would you do?  Running away for a month on a business trip to avoid my wife is not the right answer.   Please wait for Part 2.

Written by Subbu Murthy

May 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

IT Project Considerations

leave a comment »

When considering IT Projects solutions, the key drivers are to spend sufficient time understanding the needs. In fact, the very first question would be to assess if the business strategies are well established, and equally important, to assess whether the business processes and assumptions that drive the perceived need for the new IT Project are valid. It is well known that a technology solution cannot fix an ailing business process, in fact, it will only make it worse. This is important when considering an upgrade to an IT system; if the issue is the business process, fix the process before embarking upon an upgrade. Before embarking on the IT system upgrade, it is imperative to assess the risks. Risks are both intrinsic (internal operations, sales, marketing, finance, HR) and extrinsic (how they impact your customers and supply chain). For enterprises also desiring to upgrade their IT system, they must assess the existing software and really scrutinize whether the upgrade is going to bring the benefits that are desired. For example, one question to ask is whether a few customizations or enhancements or bolt-ins to the current software satisfy a majority of the requirements.

Assuming that there is a need for an IT Project or an upgrade exists, we need to assess the true life cycle costs, benefits and risks of the upgrade. It should be pointed out that the life cycle technology costs are but a fraction of the overall costs; the cost of implementing the change across the organization can be daunting. A healthy bout of skepticism on the true benefits should be entertained. More than 50% of IT implementations according to researchers have failed to yield the promised benefits.

Once the needs and benefits are established, from an IT Governance point of view, the mandate for an IT Project must come from the top and have complete support and cooperation of all key stake-holders. Most IT Projects should be driven not by IT driven but by the business. Selecting the appropriate vendor is a complex task. It is best to use a systematic process of selecting the best vendor for the project. Simply attending vendor presentations is not adequate since vendors attempt to change your business needs to meet their tool features.

Implementation of an IT system, is significantly more complex. Most recommend an incremental approach as opposed to the big-bang to mitigate risk. Again, the critical aspect is having the business units manage the deployment, with IT just playing the role of a facilitator.

Written by Subbu Murthy

April 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm