Sunday, April 15, 2012

A white paper on IT Process Optimization
(Emphasis is on Change management)

 From -  Sanjeet Kumar                                             14th March 2012


An organization cannot accelerate its results without an IT function that is aligned with a coherent strategy, and optimized to perform at its highest potential. In a stable economic environment, it has been statistically established that within IT:
  1. 45% of the resources are wasted on non-productive work
  2. 90% of staff do not understand their own goal, as well as business goals
  3. 75% of CxOs do recognize the failure of their IT processes, but fail to streamline it; due to obstacles they face in getting support from stakeholders.

Closing the Execution Gap

Above statistics reveal, there’s an obvious disconnect between Investment and Performance. Between crafting the strategy and showing results. It can be labeled as the ‘execution gap’. Reasons vary one organization to another. But whatever the reason; at its base lie issues relating to the process of execution: getting the right workforce and processes to use its full potential, and to focus that potential is in the right direction.

We are transgressing ‘eras’; Economy crisis around the world has battered Banks to the extent that it is no more the question of who makes profit and how much… Rather, the question of Bank’s survival itself is in question. 

Evolution of IT as Utility, not merely a Service provider

Nowadays application environments are faster and more incremental. Nice interfaces and colorful screens are absolute. Today, if asked to Business to choose single word they hate most, would like to avoid at any cost. Invariably majority will pick the word… disruption. Disruption in banking services is big NO.
There are broader underlying requirements from the business, something they do not articulate…i.e.  Not merely the ‘continuity of service’; 2nd and 3rd criteria below as well:
  1. Continuity of service
  2. Continuity of business processes
  3. Continuity of interaction

Our aim should be to design internal Processes (development, support, operation) and SLAs in such a way that ensures continuity. It will be the “first step” towards the healthy alignment of “Business and IT”. This however, can potentially result in major transformation in the way IT executes its development and operations.

In today’s world; fraught with financial crisis, hard pressed to optimize funding… noise level to search for efficiency has grown to its highest level.  Innovative transformation of internal IT processes is inevitable. It was long due.
This is actually a boon in disguise; it is an opportunity to clean up fat and align IT with Business in completely novel way. Business Process Management (BPM) will be vital in formulating strategy and planning & achieving desired results. More than half of the World’s top tier Banks have already completed BPM exercise.

It is my strong view that future of IT workforce will reduce (is already becoming) to just 3 generic roles/skills:
a)  Consultants: Must be a combination of Internal (permanent staff) or External (on contract for limited duration). Individual who fall into this category are: CxOs, Architects, IT Unit heads <of IT support, development, Infrastructure> and Business heads who interact with IT. Essential skillset for this category:
a.       Understanding of Business
b.      Strategic thinking
c.       Knowledge of Architecture
d.      Leadership
      b)  Project Managers: The definition has changed. They will be actually a Delivery Manager. Their skill-set should include following four:
a.       Able to ensure delivery dates
b.    Able to understand Business language and convert it to developers’ language. The role of Business Analysts will merge with PM.
c.       Able to ensure that ‘delivery’ matches Service and Quality expectations of stakeholders
d.      Tactical in approach
    c)  Developers: They are ‘doers’ who carry limited programming skills in one or more areas. They sit in front of screens to provide (or develop) all the information required to run business. Majority will sweat behind LCD screens configuring applications, running automated software and generating reports.

Unfortunately, our old age method of charting hierarchy to IT workforce in an organization has created confusion and invisible barriers. Demand for off-the-shelf services growing louder and louder. Unintentionally, the Business is expecting its IT department to provide services similar to that of utility.

Transforming Development Process

Strategic vision for IT Execution should be about moving beyond automating workflows; to actually aligning, optimizing, and accelerating workforce productivity in a way that drives measurable business results. The role of ‘automation and monitoring software’ should increase.

How can we in the organization start improving IT execution? The first step is to recognize that IT execution is a shared responsibility… no one group can do it itself. Rather, IT execution requires involvement and collaboration from individual business heads, CIO, CTO, Finance and HR. Business leaders need to articulate both an overall strategic vision and the key performance indicators and metrics linked to realizing their vision.

Remember… It is the The General who ensures that the Battle is won, not thousands of Soldiers.

************* End of Part1 ******************

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