Your business is making decisions about IT. Everyday. From board meetings to daily interactions.
What are those decisions?
- Invest – A great outcome for IT. The business is willing to spend more or invest new monies into IT. Perhaps the investment is to achieve competitive gain or advantage or enter into a new market space. Regardless, a decision of “invest” indicates that IT has proven itself to be a good partner and a good steward of corporate assets.
- Use and Maintain – Also a great outcome for IT. Solutions provided by IT are working and IT has proven itself to be a reliable service provider, always ready to help.
- Leverage and exploit – Another great result. The business envisions ways to use IT to break through business barriers through innovative uses of existing (and perhaps, new) technology. IT is seen as a strategic asset and differentiator.
- Retire – A ‘retire’ decision could be good…or bad. ‘Retire’ is a good decision when the business recognizes that a solution provided by IT has reached the end of useful life. A ‘retire’ decision is even better when those solutions are being replaced by a new IT investment. But ‘retire’ could be a bad decision for IT, if investments in IT have not realized expected returns or continued use of an aspect of IT is deemed problematic.
- Avoid – The worse decision for IT. A decision of ‘avoid’ says that IT is just not responsive, provides little or no value, or is just too hard to do business with.
What decision did your business make about IT today? What information did the business use to make that decision? What part did IT play in that decision? Did IT even have a seat at the decision table?
Is technology just a “business tool”?
From a business perspective, technology is a tool that can be used to drive value, increase productivity, or reduce costs. It’s gotten to the point where, just like buying a cup of coffee, a business can get technology in about any flavor it wants — anywhere. Just look at the number and variety of “-aaS” businesses that have emerged over the past few years. Moreover, many aspects of technology have become highly consumerized. This consumerization is evidenced by the ease of use and ubiquity of technology solutions such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, public Wi-Fi – even things like home networking, website construction and cloud storage. The question has become “why should the business get its technology from your IT organization?”.
Should technology be more than just a business tool? Does your IT organization want to be more than a tool? Shouldn’t IT be seen as an asset to the organization?
Making the IT organization a “strategic asset”
If something is to be considered an asset, it must have tangible value. But “value” is tricky, because it is a subjective thing. Value is a perception – the perception that what is received is worth more than the investment and costs it required to receive it. Value is not just about the dollars and cents. Who decides the value of IT? The business that IT serves–not IT. So, how can IT be proactive in influencing that decision?
Defining services, in terms of business value and outcomes, is a critical first step for proactively influencing business decisions about IT. When IT doesn’t define its services in terms of business value and outcomes, it doesn’t help itself. In fact, without such service definitions, IT hurts itself because it commoditizes and obscures what it does. Because a clear mapping of how IT services enable or support business value chains doesn’t exist, the impression of business partners is often that the technology needed by the business can simply be obtained anywhere.
Defining services is crucial for influencing business decisions. But it can’t be the only step.
What decisions do you want your business to make about IT?
What else can IT do to positively influence the everyday decisions that business is making about the IT organization?
- Look at and manage IT as a portfolio – Many IT shops are managed from a list of projects, an annual budget, and an organization chart. As a result, there is little consideration for the strategic use of technology – it’s more about getting projects done within allocated resources. Without portfolio management, those projects often compete for the same resources and in some cases, those projects actually deliver opposing outcomes. Portfolio management takes a different approach through the application of systemic management of the investment, projects, and activities of IT organizations. It formalizes the strategy for the use of technology, and as a result, helps business realize the right returns for the right investments in IT.
- Establish or enhance your business relationship management (BRM) capability. A BRM capability enables IT to proactively promote its value across the business. The four pillars of BRM –Demand Shaping, Exploring, Servicing, and Value Harvesting[i] – helps businesses realize value by surfacing demand, identifying value, effectively servicing to meet demand, and ensuring insights into and continual improvement of value within the IT portfolio of services, capabilities, and products.
- You tell the story – don’t just leave it for someone else to do. Be an ambassador for your IT organization. How? By understanding your company’s mission, vision, and goals (MVG), and then identifying for yourself how IT contributes to the achievement of the MVG. But don’t stop there – identify how you and your contributions contribute to MVG. When your story becomes personal, it becomes much more compelling and powerful for those that hear it.
If IT does not tell its story – someone else will. And that story may not reflect the value that IT is delivering. By defining services in terms of business value and outcomes, managing IT as a portfolio, leveraging BRM, and each IT team member being a brand ambassador helps IT tell its story and positively influence the everyday decisions business partners make about IT.
Can your IT organization tell its story – in terms of business value? Do you know how IT delivers business value? It’s not about taking calls at the Service Desk or producing reports – it is about services defined in terms of business value and outcomes. If your services aren’t defined in this manner, Tedder Consulting can help. Want to know more? Contact Tedder Consulting today!
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[i] Business Relationship Management Institute, “The BRMP® Guide to the BRM Body of Knowledge”, Van Haren Publishing, Zaltbommel, Netherlands. 2015.Share