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Which level of excellence do you need for your IT?

IT is part of our life from morning to evening. It is difficult nowadays to live without a smart phone or to find a destination without the navigation system in the car. IT is equally essential for almost all companies. IT needs however to face major challenges like security, scalability or compatibility between different operating systems. Big investments are required and some companies struggle with their financial results which can put IT into an uncomfortable situation because of the financial pressure.
For the above-mentioned reasons, steering IT has become a fundamental challenge. So the current article describes an effective framework which should enable companies to gain a good understanding of the focus points to get their IT at the right level of excellence. A model will be proposed and the use of maturity levels will allow us to be in a position to identify the major gaps in one organisation in terms of IT management.

IT management framework
Let’s now take a look at how IT works in a company. Most of the time, a dedicated IT organisation is in place in order to “run” and “change” the company. Depending on the size and the culture of the firm, the IT is either managed within a central unit or in a decentral way. The way of organizing the IT itself may vary a lot, depending on the focus and role given to the IT department, either technology driven, business or service oriented, or even as a profit centre.

It is possible also to observe that in general many projects run in parallel in a company. Among those projects, many deal with process optimisation and can be considered to be IT projects as IT needs to be involved. Moreover, lifecycle projects are conducted to keep the IT infrastructure up-to-date. So IT projects are certainly one of the central elements within the IT management framework next to the IT organisation.

The way of managing projects depends on the culture of the company. In many companies, projects are just conducted in parallel. Other would have a multi-project management in place, where interdependencies between projects are taken into account. In some cases, portfolio management may be used, especially if several strategic initiatives run simultaneously. Therefore prioritisation, resource allocation, deadlines, risks and opportunities need to be aligned and managed. The IT project portfolio guarantees that the “right” IT projects are conducted. It presents some advantages, like:

  • IT investments are aligned,
  • risks are better managed,
  • resource allocation is optimised,
  • transparency about the coming investments and the progress of running projects is guaranteed,
  • a standardized project management approach is in place,
  • the definition of best-practices is possible,

… and requires a strong project management culture within the company.
The IT project portfolio management is set-up in order to perform optimal use of deployment activities in the IT area. Based on a recurring procedure, the project portfolio process will enable a company to make the right selection of IT projects. The project portfolio constitutes also a management tool to plan and co-ordinate projects on a global level. Based on prioritised requirements, a project idea is validated and depending on the nature and scope of the request, a project may start once approved by top management. This includes the choice and introduction of new software solutions, the optimisation of existing solutions, upgrading or migration activities.
Within the project portfolio, a project is a planned piece of work to achieve specific purposes within a limited timeframe. Projects are complex, require resources, involve different organisational units and have a defined timescale.

IT services
represent certainly an additional key area, including all the technical services needed which are either provided internally or bought to external IT providers. Services are activities where an intangible exchange of value occurs such as accounting, patent fees, maintenance, cleaning, consultancy, education, expertise or transportation. In contrast, goods represent material properties. One important notion is the value of a service, which is always defined by the consumer. The IT customer determines, if an IT service delivered fulfils his needs. The service is „good“ if the perception is favourable and if it has a positive value in terms of cost/benefit perspective. One should always bear in mind, that the customer has always three views: real financial benefits, the perception and the preferences.

Here are some examples of IT services:

  • Service desk
  • Directory services
  • Client engineering & application service provision
  • IT training services
  • Customer support services
  • Messaging & collaboration services
  • Data centre services
  • Network services
  • Application development services
  • Application management services

Gesamter Fachbeitrag hier als PDF

Dr. Lionel Pilorget - Bank CIC Switzerland

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