What goes round comes around. It is amazing how chief executives and chief information officers are again talking about IT departments moving from being seen as a cost to an investment. With such a focus we must justify our resources, spend and existence.
How can we do this fast? Tinkering with the real world will achieve nothing - one has to go deeper in order to counter, deflect and dissolve the negative publicity.
Also, how can we deal with chief executives who spend too much time with their heads stuck in the sand. After all:
- Who changed the agenda?
- Who altered the dates and budgets?
- Who changed their minds after asking for a swing; then a slide; then a roundabout; then a swing that only swings forward; then one for half price; then one in three days time?
We have a choice. We can whinge and complain (with some justification) or we can act. It is time for positive, powerful action from the IT leader - time to stand up and be counted, to announce that you and your entire department will, from this moment on, be measured against the return on investment you deliver to your company.
The IT priority on chief executives' minds remains financial. Recession, project delivery, staff costs and budget expenditure
combine to support the view that IT is there to take and not to add - a drain on resources.
Unfortunately our recent experiences with Y2K and dotcom businesses have not convinced our bosses otherwise.
This has to change - by the IT leaders deciding to measure the real ways they and their departments are adding value to the business at every level, proving that they are all, fundamentally, business people.
The IT director who is serious about delivering a measurable return on investment must do many things differently:
- Be absolutely clear where you are going, and unite your team behind that clear, concise and compelling future
- Create measurement, reporting and communication infrastructures that are outstanding
- Put in information systems that track the use of desktops and quantify the value they bring
- Market the IT department through powerful interpersonal relationships, at all levels - make sure people see you doing things right
- Quantify the real costs, benefits and ownership for all projects - every project is a business project, there is no such thing as an IT project
- Relate everything you do, and plan to do, directly to the company's bottom line - this includes ensuring that your IT people use business-speak and not technology jargon, all day, every day
- Make your chief executive your best friend - whether or not you like him.
- Focus on these areas and watch the transformation.
Provide a clear contract (service charter) on what you will deliver, and when
All IT services come down to a fine balance between what a company wants and what it can achieve.
Manage this and you will focus on business first and be at the heart of your organisation.
David Taylor is president of Certus