Sunday, August 19, 2007

Key Learnings: Overcoming IT obstacle

I used to get offended whenever anyone stated that IT was an obstacle for Business, most probably because of I have been part of IT twice in my career. After giving this some thought following are some of the approaches IT could take to overcome this perception.

Business and LOB-IT agree to adopt agile, i.e. a small joint team of IT and business to rapidly deploy applications. IT Operations object and demand that the team follow the traditional application life cycle (at least for the releases) so that they can meet the business SLAs.
  • This may make sense for transactional systems that are business critical - but then again, if managed right even such applications could be deployed using the agile approach. One potential approach would be to provide a dedicated set of environment (including in production) and/or include IT operations in the agile team. This enables them to rapidly deploy new capabilities every few week.

A small business team developed or procured an applications which suddenly gains a lot of momentum within the enterprise. As IT was not involved in any of the decision making, it refuses to supporting or maintain the application stating that it may not have the skill set, resources and/or the ability to support it. This frustrates the business as they see this as IT slowing down innovation.

  • IT should work with business to find a solution. Couple of options include - outsources the maintenance to a third party (including hosting servers outside the IT's data center) OR IT provides only lights-on SLA for such applications.

Business comes to LOB-IT requesting a data mart - basically extract some key information from multiple systems for reporting purposes. IT comes back with a huge proposal that includes procuring hardware, reporting tool licenses, support headcount, etc. a number that business definitely cannot afford.

  • Observed this across multiple large enterprises - business extract the data from sources and sends it to a third party (small business) who have the expertise to create the custom reports as well as support the business. IT needs to figure out a ways to support such business needs - otherwise, it risks being irrelevant for rapidly developing custom reports for the business.

Business is interested in rapidly rolling out a business capability with a time frame and budget in mind. IT comes back with traditional approach of selecting and deploying packaged applications with both an unacceptable time frame and budget.

  • Work with business to identify a SaaS provider and either pull all the data in periodically or identify and develop the integration between the SaaS provide and the exiting enterprise applications.

These are just some examples - additional anecdotes are welcome.




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