A Practical Alternative to Two-Speed IT
Part two of this series on two-speed IT will explain the remaining three steps in the framework and will describe how to implement a technology lifecycle.
Here’s how to achieve that objective:
Establish the vocabulary within your own team. Adopt a common vocabulary for each stage of the system’s maturity: the same name and the same set of resource and benefit expectations for each stage. It’s imperative that everyone sings from the same choir book in front of both IT teams and business stakeholders.
Place each of your systems within your lifecycle. Evaluate and visually map each of your systems to the lifecycle. Attach your budgets—where and how much you are spending—to the different stages of the lifecycle. This will immediately show you which technologies you are over-funding relative to their maturity.
Spread your lifecycle through the entire organization. Everyone needs to know what the lifecycle—and each stage of the lifecycle—means; where each of your systems sits within the lifecycle at any given time; and, most importantly, what that means for investments in and expectations of the system.
Refresh technology placement once a year. During your annual planning phase, work internally and with your stakeholders to review your systems and make appropriate changes. Be sure to communicate those changes within IT and the rest of the organization through an annual mini-marketing meeting so everyone in IT and the business understands where each current technology sits in the lifecycle—and what they can expect regarding funding that technology for the coming year.
In short: With your stakeholders, reach agreement on your technology lifecycle; what this lifecycle means for investment resources and dollars (not only amounts, but also where those dollars shift from CAPEX to OPEX); and where each of your current technologies sits in the lifecycle. Then you will have an effective framework for filtering your stakeholders’ competing demands.
Step 5: Use your lifecycle to frame new stakeholder demands.
With your technology lifecycle, you will provide a mature, agreed-upon framework for processing stakeholder requests.
- When your stakeholders ask you to innovate and invest in new technology development, the lifecycle will help you determine where that development will be most valuable.
- When your stakeholders ask you to “consumerize” and reduce resources, your lifecycle will identify which systems are due to provide increased efficiencies and reduced or eliminated investment.
- Most importantly, you can use the lifecycle when your stakeholders feel upset that IT is spending too much money and they don’t know where that money is going. You can use the lifecycle to manage their expectations about when they will start seeing benefits from their investment.
Today: Move From Awareness to Action
As much as we’ve taken the concept of two-speed IT to task in this series, the concept has performed an important job: By putting our stakeholders’ competing demands front and center, it has shone a light on IT leaders' increasing need to adopt a formal solution to underlying tensions of their technology’s lifecycle.
Traditionally, only best-in-breed IT groups have established real structure and governance around balancing their new and innovative technology with their legacy systems. With digital transformation increasing the speed and importance of technology within the business, this tight focus on technology lifecycles has become a requirement for all IT leaders who wish to be relevant stewards of technology in their company.
Lee Reese has 20 years of experience in corporate communications, process and program development. As a partner at Rain Partners, she oversees delivery of the firm’s consulting engagements and program content. Reese translates high-level strategy into real-world operating frameworks and tangible metrics, and she drives strategic and operational benefits to clients in functional areas.