In his final column Gary Lawrence, country manager of CA, looks at what organisations can do to manage their IT environments more effectively and ensure closer alignment to the business
Looking back at 2008, it suffices to say that this has been one of the most challenging years for businesses and consumers alike. The world is still reeling from the effects of the global credit crunch and the outlook for 2009 remains filled with uncertainty.
Now more than ever, technology professionals need to get the most out of their technology environments and investments. The true value of IT, however, lies in its ability to improve business performance. IT managers have come to realise that the effective and efficient management of technology is no longer enough – they have to be in synch with the short and long-term goals of the business.
Most large organisations typically have about 150+ IT projects underway at any given point. Most of these projects resulted from some form of a business need, however, the exact business needs are often not easily articulated or the links to how the investment supports the company’s objectives are not clear.
In contrast, leading organisations today are building portfolios of IT projects that are clearly aligned to what the business is trying to achieve. The alignment to business drivers takes place prior to the start of any project – not after the fact – and forms a logical part of the IT project evaluation process. In addition, there needs to be a clear understanding of the alignment to the business driver; coupled with what resources are required, and how much cost has been or will be incurred – something that is critical to CIOs tasked with reducing cost and reprioritising spend.
A growing trend that we see emerging is the move towards more ruthless evaluation of IT projects. If a project is not aligned to business drivers and it will not help the company to achieve its strategic objectives, then forward-looking companies will simply not embark on the project. It has become as clear cut as that.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure
There are three components to consider when looking to better manage your IT environment whilst at the same time ensuring that it helps achieve business objectives:
1. Have a crystal clear view of the organisation’s roadmap and strategic imperatives – both for the short and the long term. This might seem obvious to some and perhaps even patronising to others, but I am amazed at how often this element is not understood.
2. Assess and document what IT services are needed to deliver what the organisation is trying to achieve. If the value of a service cannot be easily justified, or the way in which it supports the future direction of the business is not clear, you need to question the relevance of and ongoing investment in such a service. It is also important to align the cost of an IT service with the value this service delivers to the business.
3. Gain an understanding of what the IT service looks like in terms of people, processes and technology. For example, when looking at your organisation’s e-mail service, do you have visibility of all the components, how they all fit together and ultimately deliver value to the business.
Only once you have this sort of visibility, will you be in a position to detect duplication, identify additional areas for automation and cost reduction as well as areas where user experiences can be improved.