Do you sometimes find your IT teams looking for opportunities to implement new technology?
It often seems that we decide on a technology solution then start looking for an opportunity to use it, or we implement technology projects because they seem like a good idea. Possibly you feel that IT is leading the customer and worry that if IT did not propose new solutions the business would still be using pen and paper?
The trouble is this often leads to what I call the “tail wagging the dog”.
What happens in most of these situations is that we end up with a solution being implemented that may or may not address a business problem, has little buy-in from the business users, and is never fully utilised. In these cases the enterprise does not get the full return on its investment.
I can hear you saying that this is not new, that these problems have always existed, and I would be the first to agree with you.
The boundaries between IT and business are becoming increasingly blurred by consumer technology, however IT is still responsible for researching and making the business aware of opportunities. But, this should be one of many inputs into the business strategy process, and not the only reason to implement new technology.
It is important that we return to the first principles that we sometimes neglect.
(see attached diagram)
We need to return to the text book approach of starting with the business strategies and breaking them into a series of initiatives. Then each initiative is further split into one or more projects. These projects may be improving the organisation, delivering a new service, expanding current product lines, or some other form of growth or change.
The important next step is to ensure that the process change needed precedes the technology component, or at worst is tightly coupled with it. If we fail to resolve the process issues before implementing technology we end up with a bigger problem.
By taking this structured approach the business will be driving the needs and will be involved in the necessary process change, which will generate greater buy-in and the technology will be fulfilling a business need. Hopefully this will lead to the enterprise getting the returns it desires (or at least have the best opportunity to achieve them).