Managing the Business of IT Needs More Than Just Good Project Management

How many times have we discussed multi-year IT projects that not only have exceeded their time estimate and are over budget, but they also fail to deliver the benefits promised to the user community.

The ISACA 2012 Governance of Enterprise IT (GEIT) Survey, March 2012, confirmed that issues with projects delivering on their promises continue. According to the survey, enterprises continue to experience project overruns (48%), 41% experienced a high cost of IT with a low or unknown return on investment and 38% said there was a disconnect between business and IT strategies. These results confirmed that the traditional cadence of long running, multi-year projects is not meeting business demands. It is clear we are not satisfying the business, and the processes we are using, although well proven in the past, continue to fall short.

As a first response many of us have moved to an agile approach where we deliver on projects with a more rapid cadence, leverage consumer input and deliver value to the consumer on a more regular basis allowing the end product to morph over time based on feedback. That approach appears to cover many of the challenges we have, but this is no panacea.  

You will always hear the arguments of waterfall versus agile. I don’t want to get in the middle of an argument as both methodologies have their place and the simple answer is “it depends,” but the changing delivery cycle of an IT-enabled business means that your delivery of capability is rapidly changing. Let me explain.

We all know mobility is on the rise. How many of you don’t have a Tablet or a Smartphone?  How often are you notified that your APPS are updating weekly or monthly? Have you seen how easy it is to provide feedback to the developer for additional capability or even a bugfix? A few clicks and it’s done! More than ever we are moving to type of customer-centered development, yet this can suck all your resources into development of services that don’t meet the corporate mission if not aligned to the business objectives. We need to ensure our development is correctly focused on achieving the mission of the business, which mandates understanding by those empowered to execute. This requires effective communication of the corporate mission to all levels in the organization and effective management with continuous monitoring of all the changing dynamics to ensure we are moving together toward an ever-changing goal.

We must be engaged in delivering constant and consistent bite-sized pieces of value and communicate it in terms of the business objectives. In short, we must effectively execute “the business of IT.”

Executing the Business of IT requires:

IT portfolio analysis

Optimization of investment decisions to balance cost, value and risk are essential IT planning functions and can only be achieved with an aggregated and correlated view across infrastructure, asset, project and application portfolios enabled by effective executive reporting and analysis capabilities. These need to be able to be adjusted in real time based on the changing dynamics of the business environment to support the risks and outcomes and value realization of decisions.

IT financial transparency

Transparency for delivering each IT service, including a detailed understanding of unit costs and cost drivers, allow for better cost-based decisions. These costs can be sent back to the business which helps to demonstrate the value to the business. Understanding the ratio of cost to value will allow the business to make informed decisions in good times and bad, and help ensure that the business is accountable for consumption.

IT performance management

IT is transitioning to becoming the service provider to its business partners and therefore must measure its performance against its contractual obligations, IT metrics, KPI’s and benchmarks. IT performance management provides the ability to better articulate the value of IT in business terms and understand service performance from the top down. 

You may think that moving your IT construct from its current state to the Business of IT is a significant cultural or organizational shift, but I can assure you that many forward-thinking organizations have already begun the transition. Have you?

As always I welcome your thoughts!

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Robert Stroud

Vice President Strategy & Innovation IT Business Management at CA Technologies
Robert Stroud is vice president of innovation and strategy for IT Business Management at CA Technologies. Rob is dedicated to the development of industry trends, strategy and communication of industry best practices. Rob is a strong advocate for the governance, security, risk and assurance communities working closely with the community to author, develop and communicate standards and best practices. Rob also advises organizations on their implementations to ensure they drive maximum business value from their investments in IT-enabled business governance. Following a four-year term as an ISACA International vice president, Rob served on the ISACA Strategic Advisory Council, and is currently serving as ISACA ISO Liaison sub-committee. Earlier, Rob served on the itSMF International Board as Treasurer and Director Audit, Standards and Compliance, the itSMF ISO liaisons to multiple working groups and spent multiple years on the board of the itSMF USA. An accomplished author and blogger, Rob is widely recognized for perspectives on industry trends. He also has contributed to multiple standards publications including COBIT 4.0, 4.1 and COBIT 5, Guidance for Basel II and several ISO standards. Rob served as an active member of the ITIL Update Project Board for ITIL 2011 and in various roles in the development of ITIL v3 including the Advisory Group, mentor and reviewer. Prior to joining CA Technologies, Rob spent more than 15 years in the finance industry successfully managing multiple initiatives in both IT and retail banking sectors related to security, service management and process governance. Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobertEStroud

This article has 1 comment

  1. Hi,

    Experience shows that most IT leaders avoid implementing Services for two (2) reasons…

    1. They’re ignorant and ill-educated as to the value of Service Management and, as a result, they just don’t know why or how best to implement Services.

    2. They don’t want to be measured because it would expose things in their areas that they just don’t want others to know about.

    Unless an IT leaders, like a CIO, convinces a business that the IT organization should be reorganized around key repeatable and measurable Servies, businesses just don’t know enough to force it to happen, themselves. Some rare smart COOs will force it. However, most businesses don’t think of forcing Service Oriented Enterprises and, sadly, many IT leaders take advantage of it.

    My Best,

    The International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)

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