Understand how IT is perceived to get in synch with business needs

Get a better idea of what users expect

 Get a better idea of what users expect

In most organisations the relationship between the IT department and the business can be described as four different levels.

At level one IT is a facility. Here the IT department focuses on reducing the overall cost of manual operations. The approach is based on automation of standard functionality and business justification is to control expense (not necessarily to increase value).

At level two IT is a service. Automation moves into the managerial levels (eg sales forecasting) and the focus turns on quality. The justification of IT to the business is based upon controlling costs.

At level three IT is a partner. Here it moves toward creating a strategic advantage and focuses on helping the organisation increase market share.

At level four IT is an enabler. The focus is on creating sustainable new revenue streams and gives an organisation an edge over rivals.

The book provides a checklist to help understand what level of importance your IT department is perceived as having within your organisation. This involves matching the perception of IT value on the demand side and the supply side, so the checklists should be answered by both communities. Key checklist questions include:

  • What is the primary area in which the board expects a value contribution from IT? For instance is it process efficiency, organisational effectiveness, or strategic?
  • What is IT's primary business driver? Is it expense control, business unit measurements, market share horizontal and vertical linkages or industry domination?
  • At what level is IT management influential within the management of the business? (IT users, business unit, the executive team or the board).
  • What is IT's perceived role within senior management? Is it a provider of technical capability, a basis for organisational efficiency, a strategic alignment with the business, or helping to deliver the corporate vision?
  • On what basis does alignment between business strategies and IT occur? Is it piecemeal hardware/software, application systems with business processes, or a holistic synergy?

Answering these questions is designed to give you a view of your IT value perception level. This checklist is a starting point.

The next step is looking at the detailed characteristics to verify whether this first assessment suits you and where the deviations are. This next stage helps in determining the focus for your organisation.

IT Performance Management, by Peter Wiggers, Henk Kok and Maritha de Boer-de Wit is part of the Computer Weekly Professional Series. To order a copy of the book, priced £39.99, go to https://www.elsevier.com/books-and-journals

 

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