What’s All This Talk of IT Transformation?

IT (Information Technology) transformation is about crafting IT’s operating model, processes, and methods of delivering new IT services to support the enterprise. Notice I said “services,” not technologies. Technology is not strategic all by itself. The use of technology in support of business objectives is how an IT organization becomes successful.

Recent custom benchmarks we conducted show all of the participating enterprises are on parity when it comes to use of technology. What differentiates the successful IT organization from the unsuccessful IT organization is how well the roles are defined and the state of their operating model.

Digging a little deeper we discover role definition means more than a good job description. It includes understanding what people do, who they interact with, and what processes they use to achieve their goals. There are many methods you might use to better understand the scope of roles. Those include:

  • A RACI-like approach to task definition (ITIL knowledge assumed)
  • Swim lanes to map process handoffs and feedback
  • Use case scenarios to understand how a service is delivered

These are tools to help leadership define solutions to becoming successful. They are a starting point to show you what is happening within your IT organization. Once you can see weak spots, you can build a prioritized program to fix them.

Remediating the gaps requires finding the balance between informal methods and too much process. We have found IT success is linked to a structure that maps to the enterprise culture. In all cases, it is formalized enough to be repeatable and provide guardrails for service delivery. Improved service delivery can only increase trust by the lines of business in the IT organization. That trust can lead to early inclusion in the development process.

In interviews with CIO/CTOs, I often hear the lament that the lines of business do not engage with them in the early stages of developing new technologies and services. There is no single reason for this, but one theme appears frequently–the lines of business think dealing with the IT organization is too cumbersome. Where IT process and roles run smoothly, those barriers are significantly reduced.

Think about this: When the iTablet was introduced in your enterprise, were you able to provide a single point of contact who owned the end-to-end service delivery over the life of that new, integrated technology?

In most cases, the answer is “no.” Most IT organizations jumped into react mode, grabbed some people who could be depended on and pushed the square pegs of testing, pilot, and production acceptance through the round holes of the legacy operating model. That is not success.

Success is when a new, integrated technology comes at us and we are in a proactive state to accept the request and move it through standardized processes with clear ownership and accountability. We shouldn’t have to overhaul the organization with each new wave of technology. When we accomplish that, we start to build trust with our business partners. The starting point is addressing the fundamentals of the operating model.

I have several friends who are successful writers. I asked them how much of their time they spend writing. The answer is consistently 20-25%. The rest of the time they are administering email, developing marketing strategies, blogging, managing social networks and developing their reader audience.

I don’t think successfully delivering IT services is much different.

Johna Till Johnson President and Senior Founder Nemertes Research About Johna Till