Right People, Right Roles

If you haven’t been able to execute your IT strategy, it’s likely that you don’t have the right people in the right roles.

And if you don’t execute your company’s strategy properly, job market data suggests that there are 10 other IT leaders willing to take over your job right now–and make the tough people decisions that you haven’t made.

So how do you fix this? Start by taking a close look at the make-up of IT strategy execution to get to the heart of the problem.

Ultimately, strategy execution relates to getting things done in a high-quality way, on time and on budget–the “triple constraints.” If your teams are meeting these three constraints, well, odds are you’re doing a good job as IT leader and you make the tough decisions that ensure you have the right people in the right roles.

But if that’s not the case, here are some typical reasons your current IT staff might not manage these three constraints well.

Most of your people likely believe that exceeding the project budget (unless there has been a change in scope) will enrage management, possibly leading to discipline or termination. So your people will generally work hard to make sure the project is met within the budget. However, this doesn’t mean they had the budget right in the first place–and that usually has downstream effects in delivery on time or delivery of quality.

Another common view in IT is, “It’s not that big of a deal if I miss the completion date for this project. As long as it gets done next week or next month, it will be fine.” That thinking will lead to your demise as an IT leader.

We must have people who build a project plan properly and do everything they can to see it through, no matter how much time they have to work. I often tell my people that a forecast is a “promise.” Once we agree on a plan, it’s all theirs. I can help them with issues and risks, but it’s up to my staffers to execute on the plan–no matter what.

Another common view in IT: “The business demanded that this deliverable be completed on an aggressive schedule–and it was an impossible mission from the start. That’s why we couldn’t deliver quality within that timeframe.”

That “impossible mission” should have been challenged by your IT folks at the beginning with supporting data to show the business realistic timeframes. Your best IT people will make sure that aggressiveness in the plan is balanced with pragmatism at the beginning of the project.

Business people have an obligation to own their parts of the project, but it’s our obligation in IT to make sure that we have the right people to guide the business on the right plan from the beginning, including naming the specific obligations of specific business people.

You know who your stars are. And you know who your ineffective people are. The way to execute flawlessly is to have the right people in the right roles.

Begin by defining your IT roles–and then go find the people to match those roles and your company’s culture. There’s plenty of available talent, but act fast: Your time to enjoy an IT “buyer’s market” on the job front may soon end.

And if you don’t make the tough decisions, your boss will find someone who will.

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