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There was a time not so long ago when information technology (IT) executives labored in obscurity and the IT organization was viewed by its enterprise sponsors as a necessary but expensive piece of overhead. The best run IT shops kept costs down and the presses rolling. The broad spectrum of IT's strategic alignment with the business was not of concern, and only rarely did one find a chief information officer (CIO) sitting on the executive management committee. Today, the situation is quite different. Whereas in the early 1990s IT executives may have fretted about having a role in the enterprise's strategic visioning, today IT enablement serves as a core component in most business plans. As a result, proportionate spending on IT has grown significantly, and the CIO is now viewed as a key contributor to the enterprise's business strategy and planning processes.
For IT professionals, these developments are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, IT staffing and resource levels have increased, as has the status of the IT organization within the greater enterprise. Expectations run high that IT products and services will give the business a competitive edge, improve productivity, allow for greater complexity and diversity in business operations, and lower overall operating costs. On the other hand, the pressure is on IT to deliver. The business side of the house now anticipates positive, significant outcomes from technology spending. Indeed, business managers expect measurable returns on their growing investment in IT, even as they request and fund grand, ever more complex and risk-laden IT projects. As the past decade of huge IT investments has sadly demonstrated, not all of these expectations have been well informed, leaving many chief executives dissatisfied with their IT organizations and the substantial enterprise resources these now consume.
The primary premise of this book is that the greatest challenge faced by IT executives today is in demonstrating value-added contributions to the enterprise of their technology organizations. To be specific, IT management is now pressed more than ever to deliver a quantifiable return on the investments (ROI) made in corporate IT. Sadly, many IT projects continue to come in late and over budget, while falling short of customer expectations. For that matter, the bread and butter of day-to-day IT service delivery is all too often left to its own devices without a serious consideration of how process improvements could lead to performance improvements and greater customer satisfaction. The primary value of The Hands-On Project Office: Guaranteeing ROI and On-Time Delivery is to provide carefully considered and thoroughly tested processes, techniques, and tools that the harried IT manager may apply immediately to improve the delivery of IT products and services. In brief, this book serves as a compendium of best practices and practical recommendations for the consideration and use by IT service delivery and project management professionals.
Now, it is true that the existing trade literature is populated with books to assist IT practitioners in the execution of their day-to-day responsibilities. Most of this body of work, however, considers the minutiae of project management, neglecting entirely the service side of the equation, or focuses on the grander issues of business/IT strategic alignment. As good as many of these books are, by and large they do not address the particular needs outlined. In the first place, their continuing emphasis on the debate over whether IT should align with the enterprise is no longer necessary. Almost anyone in an organizational leadership role would agree on the importance of such an alignment within the enterprise. To that point, many business executives are now sufficiently conversant in the whys and wherefores of information technology to set the IT direction for their own enterprises, leaving the CIO to implement their vision. Second, many IT management texts are entirely too academic, providing complex and cumbersome models and methodologies that would never be considered — let alone employed — by experienced, overworked practitioners in the field. Appendix K provides a list of recommended readings of the best and most current books in these areas.
From the outset, this book takes a different tack. It serves as a practitioner's handbook, providing simple, deployable frameworks, practical tools, and proven best practices for successful IT service and project delivery management. All of the tools mentioned in the text and captured in the accompanying Web site (http://www.crcpress.com/e_products/downloads/download.asp?cat_no=AU1991) have been field tested in organizations ranging from colleges and universities to major for-profit corporations to small, entrepreneurial enterprises and so-called dot.coms by the author who, for, twenty years, has served as a CIO, a chief knowledge officer (CKO), or an IT consultant. Although each tool or approach is described in the body of the text as it is to be applied in the field, the author has also provided by way of illustration a companion document library on the accompanying Web site, which includes both actual tool templates and examples of completed forms. Together, these examples illustrate how the practical advice of The Hands-On Project Office may be adapted and applied directly to the reader's own management situations.
What enterprise executives really want from their IT organizations is a reasonable level of economy, consistency, and reliability in the execution of IT assignments. Most business leaders already recognize the paramount role that IT plays in serving the business side of the house and its customers. What they do not see is a satisfactory return on their investments in technology-enabled business processes, and in some instances, even positive outcomes for the funds expended. IT consulting firms and trade magazines are now all singing from the same hymnal that ROI is the name of the game for corporate IT expenditures in 2003 and beyond. Indeed, in the current, tough economic climate the mantra is to do more with less. This measure is now applied to the IT organization, just as it is has been employed for some time against the performance of other key business units within the enterprise. In today's competitive market-place, cost cutting must go hand-in-hand with higher output and greater productivity. This means that IT organization performance will come under ever greater scrutiny.
IT leaders must get proactive about doing more with less while demonstrating greater success in addressing customer requirements. The Hands-On Project Office shows IT managers how to better coordinate their work efforts, hold their own teams accountable, communicate the impact of IT overall product and service delivery to the enterprise, and more generally, demonstrate the value of the IT organization to the whole. The challenge in these scenarios is to establish the means for repeatable IT team successes. Throughout, the book's approach is to address these very objectives by streamlining the work processes that capture and reflect information concerning IT delivery, and that clarify associated roles, responsibilities, customer expectations, and performance measures. In short, this book provides immediately implementable solutions to IT personnel faced with the day-to-day management of large, complex assignments. The audience for this book includes IT executives and line managers, customer service and call center personnel, project managers and business analysts, knowledge management (KM) officers, IT architects, and other senior technical and business managers across the enterprise.
In preparing this text, the author has enjoyed and benefited from interactions with a large number of private and public sector IT managers. To acknowledge them individually would require a book in itself. The author therefore thanks them and their respective organizations collectively for their time and the quality of their input into his research. They include Arkwright Insurance, AT&T, Babson College, the Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Bankers Trust (New York), BankVest Capital, Boston University, Bryn Mawr College, Camp Dresser & McKee, Columbia University, Deloitte & Touche, Disney Enterprises, Drexel University, Earley and Associates, The Faxon Company, Harvard University Medical School, Hofstra University, The Hurwitz Group, ITechnology, KPMG Consulting Services, Marriott Corporation, MIT, MetLife, Multibank Financial Corporation, The New England, Northeastern University, Paine Webber International, The Robbins Company, SilverPlatter Information, Simmons College, the State of California's Secretary of State's Office, the Treasury Division (Canadian Federal Government), University of Ottawa, University of Pennsylvania, Wheelock College, and William & Mary University.
The author also acknowledges the assistance of a number of consulting firms with established expertise in change management, namely Axion Consulting, Beacon Application Services, Boston Consulting Group, CSC Index, and Symmetrix, who have willingly shared their expertise with me. In particular, I am grateful to the folks at Symmetrix for introducing me to a strategy for the effective marketing of change within the organization, and to Beacon Application Services for demonstrating the use of new groupware tools in the rapid prototyping of new IT-enabled business processes.
As helpful as these people have been in shaping my views on managing IT services and projects, nothing has proved more formative than my own field experience. The list of enterprises with whom I have been associated as an IT executive, a business strategist, or a technology planning consultant include AIRS Software, Arkwright Mutual Insurance, Babson College, the California State Archives, Camp, Dresser & McKee Consulting Engineers, East Tennessee State University, The Faxon Company, Harvard University Medical School, Kingsport City Municipal Government, the Merrill Palmer Institute, MetLife, Multibank Financial Corporation, New England Financial Corporation, Riemer & Braunstein Attorneys at Law, The Robbins Company, SilverPlatter Information, Simmons College, Trellis Computer Services, Wayne State University, the WGBH Foundation, and Wheelock College. This collection of organizations encompasses large and small, public and private, and high-tech and low-tech enterprises. But they all have two things in common: a need to manage their respective IT services more effectively and efficiently, and a need to invest in and restructure their operations and uses of IT to better address the evolving requirements and expectations of their paying customers. As I have worked for this diverse group of organizations over the years, I have come to appreciate both the common and the unique strategies and techniques required to achieve successful enterprisewide IT service and project delivery. For these close and rich affiliations, I am most grateful. Without them, I would not have been in the position to prepare this book.
Lastly, I thank my many colleagues at New England Financial (NEF) and Northeastern University (NEU) for their support and direction in laying the foundation for this manuscript. In particular, I recognize the NEF project office and E-commerce development teams that I led, the NEU information services management team led by Bob Weir and Rick Mickool, the NEU Project Management Office team led by Patricia Erickson, and the NEU Quality Assurance and Release Management team led by Scott Wiersman for their efforts in testing my models, validating my ideas, and correcting my errors. I also recognize Beth Anne Dancause, Pam Marascia, Denise Siciliano, Glenn Hill, and Steve Theall for their contributions to my management frameworks, process modeling, and tool development. Thank you all so very much!
To all of these good people, I must add the names of three who through their good humor, affection, and love have sustained me during the trying process of turning my ideas into this book, namely my sons Henry Alexander and Samuel Benjamin Kesner, and my wonderful, supportive, and ever patient spouse, Susan Nayer Kesner. Your presence has kept me on track and on schedule. This book is a tribute to my colleagues' and my family's collaborative efforts. My readers have them to thank for what is of worth in the pages that follow, and the author alone to blame for any errors in fact or judgment found herein.
Richard M. Kesner
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