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Today, every type of enterprise requires some level of information technology enablement. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to identify a corporate board or a chief executive who does not appreciate this need. For its part, the IT vendor community builds on this growing appreciation for the role of IT by overselling the value of investing while understating the total cost of ownership and the difficulties in bringing enabling technologies to bear. In truth, successfully integrating IT into business processes is a complicated, resource-intensive activity, requiring expert technicians working hand-in-hand with the business owners of those processes. Unfortunately, most enterprise business leaders do not want direct involvement in IT service or project delivery, and most information services professionals are not business process experts. Thus, from the outset, IT undertakings tend to be misaligned. Too much is promised; too much is assumed; and too much is left unsaid. These circumstances inevitably lead to misunderstandings, to scrap and rework, to poor results, and, hence, ultimately to unmet customer expectations.
In addressing these issues, it should be clear to the reader that the capacity of the underlying technologies is not the major problem. Most enterprises simply lack a comprehensive process that ensures the synchronization of IT service and project investments with overall business planning and delivery. Indeed, many enterprises fail to clarify and prioritize their information technology investments based on a hierarchy of business needs and values. Some enterprises do not insist that their IT projects have a line-of-business sponsor who takes responsibility for a project's outcome and who ensures sufficient line-of-business involvement in project delivery. Few, if any, are willing to commit to the internal changes within their own business processes, even though it is only through these transformations that they will realize the return on investment (ROI) on their IT investments. To address these shortcomings, each and every enterprise should embrace a process in which the business side of the house drives IT investment, in which both business and IT management holistically view and oversee IT project deliverables and service delivery standards, and in which ownership and responsibility for IT projects and services are jointly shared by the business and the IT leaderships.
For their part, IT organizations must adopt practices that focus on listening to the voice of the customer, confirming customer requirements, holding IT delivery teams accountable for their commitments, and improving overall communication within IT and between IT and its business partners. Furthermore, IT leaders must concern themselves with measuring and reporting on both the process of delivery and the team's actual deliverables. To these ends, it is essential that the IT organization clearly and explicitly define and manage projects and services so that both the sponsors and customers external to IT and the IT team itself are clear about what is to be done; by whom; when; at what cost; and how the ultimate measures of successful delivery are defined, understood, and employed by all stakeholders. Embracing these practices may run contrary to corporate culture, but they are nevertheless essential for the continuous improvement of the IT organization and for achieving consistency in serving its customers.
As a starting point, the author offers a simple model of the internal economy for information technology services that in turn drives IT's allocation of resources between service delivery and project work. For the IT executive who must manage the confluence of activities, the discussion boils down to how best to address the most impactful information technology needs of the enterprise within the constraints of the IT team's available resources. This internal economy model distills all of the complexity around resource allocations, so that management may more easily consider the larger issues of priorities and alignment with the business. This model also serves as the foundation for a more detailed consideration of two complementary IT business processes: service delivery management (Chapter 4) and project commitment management (Chapter 5). For the moment, let us delve into these activities in a little more detail. The author will then briefly introduce a series of high-level models for the more effective synchronization, communication, and oversight of IT service and project commitments, including the use of measurement and reporting tools. This précis will lay the groundwork for the rationale in creating a project management office (PMO), which will follow in Chapter 2.
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