10 tips for managing and delivering effective business IT
The role of the IT professional is changing dramatically in line with the rise of SaaS and cloud computing. With this in mind, Richard Helliar, UK managing director at business process platform company Cordys, provides some key points for IT professionals to help ensure effective business IT.
10 tips to manage and deliver effective business IT
The rapid rise of cloud computing and readily available free web-based business applications mean more business users are deploying and using technology solutions without the IT department’s involvement. For example, automotive supplier Valeo introduced Google Apps for Business to its 30,000 connected employees to increase administrative efficiency and improve collaboration between almost 200 locations in over 28 countries. Using Applications Templates business users all over the world are able to create and customise applications while governance is provided centrally to minimise duplication of effort and cost.
While this approach has many benefits, such as a faster time to implementation and reduced technology costs, there are also challenges. Bridging the gap between IT and business is the ultimate goal for any organisation, but as any business owner or IT professional will know, balancing the needs of IT with those of the business can sometimes conflict. Instead of fighting ‘shadow IT’ – when business users solve problems themselves without IT involvement – the IT department needs to take a new approach to ensure that they maintain control, while addressing the needs of the business.
Based on my experience, there are a few simple steps that can help IT professionals to embrace business IT and realise a strategy that is aligned with both the business and business users’ needs.
1. Empower people – to help allow people to work in the way they want to work you will need to accept them in as participants in the process of building the supporting IT solutions to suit their needs.
2. Be flexible – and open to change as business priorities shift. It’s better to put a stop to unsuccessful projects and reinvest that time into ones that are showing more promise.
3. Redefine boundaries – cloud computing, mobile and remote working are changing the way we manage IT. So much information and interaction takes place outside the corporate firewall as a result of the rise in social communication, this has to be embraced and turned in to an advantage. Social and collaborative methods should be investigated and real-time data used in a secure manner.
4. Make connections – IT professionals have the distinct advantage of understanding the systems that support all areas of the business, and therefore, by connecting things together, can identify new opportunities. For example helping to simplify and streamline a complex ordering system or an insurance claim will ultimately save time and costs for the business.
5. Work with the business – successful IT professionals arrange regular meetings with the relevant business teams and share as much as possible regarding key challenges and updates on IT deployments. Having the CIO report into the CEO helps to ensure strategy alignment, and that IT is seen as a ‘trusted advisor’ to the business.
6. Encourage vendors to sell to the business – like the IT teams vendors also need to learn to speak in business terms. Encourage your vendors to come in and make the business case to the non-IT stakeholders.
7. Cloud – use the power of cloud computing to design new services and test out innovation at a low risk to the business. IT professionals should embrace the cloud as a catalyst for change and use it to their advantage to show that IT is not just a cost centre but that IT teams can innovate and help achieve business objectives.
8. Personalised services – personalise IT services based on user roles and identity. This not only gives users a tailored personal experience, but also helps to streamline processes and keep confidential data secure.
9. Get the interface right – you only need to look at the success of Apple to see the power of design and user-friendly interface. Your organisation’s applications and technology solutions might have all the power, features and functionality in the world but a clunky interface means business users will never get on board. Work with vendors on project design early on to ensure its easy to use interface matches how users work.
10. Show success – demonstrate in business terms how technology is benefiting the bottom line. Before embarking on a new deployment, benchmark the challenge that the new solution will solve, and circle back in 12 months to calculate the improvements and prove the business case for IT.
Change can be threatening, but following these steps will make it easier for the business – and IT – to adapt to new ways of working and realise the benefits of an empowered user as well as an IT department that supports the aims of the business. The struggle to balance the needs of IT with the needs of the business is not going to disappear overnight, but balance can be achieved with a new approach to managing IT.
Richard Helliar, UK managing director at Cordys, the business process platform company. Richard has over 10 years of industry experience helping organisations to select technology solutions that enable them to achieve their business objectives.