I am passionate about making organizations work better through technology. We could vastly improve business performance and prevent wanton destruction of wealth. With the resources freed up we can tackle poverty, the environment and global inequity – or am I getting carried away?
The agenda is clear and many would agree that the solutions are clear – but not simple. Every organization should be doing the following 5 things:
1. Corporate governance of IT. Technology is not a separate thing to the business, it needs to be managed by management and not by the IT department. There are best practices (Cobit5, ISO38500) but the real implementation challenge is that many senior managers do not have the skills and knowledge to make the right decisions about the technology in their business.
Implement a corporate governance of IT best practice and develop your senior staff to be excellent in its application
2. Enterprise architecture. This must not be confined to the IT department, it must become a central component of all business initiatives. Enterprise architecture is very difficult to do well despite the best practices (TOGAF, FEAF etc).
Invest in an enterprise architecture and use it broadly for business decision making
3. Continuous improvement. If you have ever taken delivery of a new enterprise IT system, it probably resembled a bath tub and not the speed boat that you expected. It takes time to update practices, fix bugs and improve processes. This should never stop, even when you realize that the system has grown into the beautiful sleek machine that you were expecting.
Formalize continuous improvement in all areas of the business, maybe through Six Sigma and an Improvement Register
4. Service management. It is now almost universally accepted that the only way to run IT in complex organizations is through a service management approach (ITIL, ISO20000 etc). In my view this approach should be extended to other internal service departments such as HR and finance.
Commit to a service management maturity level of 3 and above
5. Execution methods. Execution of technology projects is notoriously tricky, with 70% not delivering to expectations. Those that do deliver use proven methodologies run by high quality people. Project management, business process management, software development lifecycle, security, and information lifecycle are 5 key areas to look at.
Develop and nurture excellence in execution to deliver 90% on time, on budget initiatives
All organizations can benefit from the above approach, but the government sector is probably most in need. Citizens who see their hard earned tax payments go up in smoke through the likes of the Queensland Government Health Payroll debacle should be insisting on a plan from politicians. This was a $6M technology project that cost $1.2Bn (or $1000 from my family).
Commit to the above 5 steps and not only will IT disasters be less likely, we should also get IT enabled and connected governments. From this we can expect transparent government, a citizen centric approach, better social inclusion and at a reduced cost.
This would be a good start on the quest for a better world!
So how can we make this happen?