The Starts & Stops of 21st Century IT


“You may delay. But time will not.” Benjamin Franklin

If information technology professionals have one goal in the early 21st century, it is to start becoming a business unit and therefore stop the separation implied by the phrase “IT and the business.” Information technology department are the business units accountable for technology. They should seek to become a creator of value, not a creator of cost. Here are some things IT leaders should start and stop doing.

  1. Start putting business knowledge alongside technology knowledge. Development plans for IT professionals are often technology focused – but has your unit taken stock of everyone’s business knowledge? Take some business courses online or at a local university.  Go to business conferences in your vertical, rather than just technology conferences.
  2. Start putting talent higher up in your priority list. Leaders need to have omni-channel strategies to hire, recruit, retain, develop and augment your talent. Pipeline through working with your local high schools, community colleges and universities. Good entry level hires aren’t just born, they are created through education, internships and mentoring. Have strong relationships BlogGraphicStartStopbolstered by mutually beneficial contracts with partners who can provide capabilities and capacity on demand.
  3. Start minimal viable structure – more doing and less meeting about doing. Exception-based reporting is a good way to start. Only discuss those programs or operations that are not meeting key performance indicators (KPIs); things that are behind schedule, realizing risk, over budget or annoying customers.
  4. Stop trying to do so many projects at once. Prioritize and deliver in a more serial fashion. I have found that regardless of organization size, IT departments are doing around 200 projects at once; with the majority experiencing delays or problems due to insufficient resources. The more projects there are, the slower the velocity. IT departments are better off doing around a dozen projects at a time, completing them, delivering the value. There are less delays and higher customer satisfaction.
  5. Stop spending so much time strategizing and planning, and start doing and delivering. In particular, if you need assistance with complex programs, organizational structure, new technology or continuous improvement, partner with a vendor that goes beyond analysis and recommendation to implementation – a vendor who can stay with you until the value is achieved. Also, the correct application of Agile moves iterative delivery of value to the forefront. There are plenty of articles about the benefits of agile; I recommend starting here.

IT departments with strong business knowledge who focus on talent, that consistently “do & deliver,” using the right partners as needed, are of increasing value as we move solidly into the 21st century.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author

Worth considering:

Technology is only as good as its deployment and application. Big data is no exception. Business leaders need to learn the questions to ask of data scientists and similar roles. This InformationWeek article discusses how to improve communications between business experts and analytic gurus – and therefore get better results.

Super Bowl Sunday wouldn’t have been complete without an infographic. Apparently the only states that were rooting for the Patriots were Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine – and North Dakota. So apparently the Eagles won the popular vote, the electoral college, and the trophy. #Sportsmanship On to the Winter Olympics!

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