Unleashing the Value in IT Project Delivery
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Here are 10 ways that CIOs can recapture the trapped value within IT organizations, such as implementing a governance process for IT service delivery.
By Steve Keegan and Craig Wright
As IT organizations grow and evolve, their perceived value tends to decrease as it becomes trapped by poorly scaled, ineffective and inefficient project delivery and change processes. However, by employing pragmatic solutions, organizations can successfully unclog the traps–unleashing the value of IT delivery and alleviating common roadblocks while demonstrating the anticipated ROI of the delivery organization.
Despite the best intentions, and often heroic efforts, a number of factors are driving increased inefficiency within IT delivery. Examples include mergers and acquisitions of new organizations that rarely achieve the full level of intended systems integration, as well as responses to compliance concerns (e.g., SarbOx and General Principles of Software Validation) that bureaucratize the delivery processes and result in unnecessary rigidity in methods and overhead (e.g., cost, effort and duration). Additionally, shadow IT organizations may act independently without due consideration of downstream impacts of change to core enterprise architectures and systems, particularly as business-driven SaaS solutions dislodge traditional IT applications. Most important, a focus on delivery of new functionality—often via point solutions and individual project implementations—frequently increases the complexity of the technical architecture. This drives additional costs to support the enterprise landscape without ensuring that redundant solutions and technologies are decommissioned.
Due to the unique history and character of each organization, there are various causes for these value traps. Enterprises should use a diagnostic tool supported by detailed analysis and engage in interviews with key owners of delivery at all parts of the lifecycle to identify causes and effects, and then develop solution sets that can provide a permanent fix. Common value traps to watch for throughout the IT project delivery-and-change life cycle include:
Strategy and Initiation
§ Issues stemming from the annual financial planning cycle, which often drives project portfolio planning and individual approvals. These issues create logjams and a substantial ebb and flow of project activity with severe swings in resource demand that cannot be effectively matched by personnel levels. This results in uneven resource utilization, knowledge loss and increased reliance on high-cost, short-term external resources in critical roles.
§ Poor visibility into and understanding of expected return from investments, resulting in the inability to effectively prioritize projects with greater value (a necessary condition to maximize ROI at the portfolio level).
§ Poor connections between IT architecture vision (or a lack of such a vision) and individual project implementations, resulting in increased complexity of the technology landscape, increased integration requirements, and corresponding effort.
Scoping and Planning
§ Inadequate representation of IT disciplines in upfront planning, resulting in inaccurate estimates of work, unrealistic timing, and an inability to plan for and place the right resources required to deliver the work.
§ Poor alignment and understanding of resource demands and supply (e.g., financial, technical and human) resulting in suboptimal utilization of resources at all levels and thus decreasing the efficiency of delivery, thereby increasing time and cost to complete. The classic example of this scenario is when a majority of the team is ready but waiting on critical resources to free up from other assignments before effective progress can be made.
Execution and Deployment
§ Poorly managed change approval processes, resulting in little to no consideration of value or impact on the business case.
§ Rigidly enforced execution methodologies, resulting in high levels of procedural rigor irrespective of the strategic value or size, scope and risk of the individual project.
§ Unclear ownership within the business of project outcomes (inclusive of IT work), driving significant disconnects in expectations between the business and IT and dissatisfaction with IT performance.
§ Lack of monitoring of value realization, resulting in minimal tie back to proposed business case ROI and project owner accountability to deliver on the promised value.
§ Poor planning for sustainment needs, resulting in increased run costs due to inadequately planned resourcing of post-go-live support or lower-than-expected service levels if the budget cannot be increased.
§ Poor planning for retirement or life cycle management of platforms, resulting in incremental additions of new platforms and systems to the technology landscape without corresponding removal of platforms and systems, thereby increasing the overall support requirements for IT.