Link To Strategy

By Gary Bolles  |  Posted 2003-09-01 Print this article Print

Link To Strategy

If your strategy to optimize IT doesnt connect all the way up to business goals, how do you know where to focus?

The drive for IT optimization is inevitable. META Group research finds that four out of every five IT operations groups have already launched an initiative of some kind to improve operations. But META also projects that three quarters of those initiatives will run into "significant inconsistencies" with their projects—which means they wont achieve the desired results.

How to avoid such a fate? By synthesizing the approaches of CIOs, analysts and consultants, a pattern for successful optimization becomes clear. Some recommendations:

First, synch up with the business. Without processes to continually ensure that youre delivering the value the business needs, you could be optimizing areas you dont need to—or not optimizing areas where you have the biggest opportunities. Dick LeFave, CIO of Nextel Communications Inc., the $8.7 billion, Reston, Va.-based wireless provider, is adamant: "The alignment part of IT helps optimization," he says flatly.

As part of that process, infuse IT staff into business units to gain a better understanding of business-unit constituents. And make sure business units volunteer their own team members to help with IT projects, and make sure they take an ownership stake in their technology initiatives. "We do no new initiative here without a business owner," says LeFave.

Next, manage IT as a portfolio of projects. Portfolio management is critical for understanding the demands continually placed on IT, says Tony Roby, partner for global architecture and core technologies at Accenture. Dont forget outsourcing as a key part of the IT portfolio, so youll be able to distribute risk outside the organization and ensure youre always delivering IT services for the best possible value. "The IT organization of the future is going to be much more a manager of services rather than the sole provider of all those services," says Roby. Be sure to do your homework first. "Before you outsource, optimize," advises Mercury Interactives Klein. "That way, youre going to get a better deal."

Finally, hire and train for the "optimized" mentality. Wherever you can, use seasoned professionals who know how to squeeze costs out of everything they do. Make sure their compen- sation is aligned with your efforts, rewarding them for their ability to execute and save money.

Tell Your CFO:
  • Our cost-management efforts must be linked to business strategy, so lets put the processes in place to ensure were cutting correctly.

    Ask Your Staff:
  • Have we squeezed all possible costs out of the operations were considering outsourcing, before asking for bids?

    Tell Your Staff:
  • Becoming part of cross-disciplinary teams with the business will increase your visibility in the organization.

    Gary Bolles Gary A. Bolles is the Editorial Director for Ziff Davis Media's Custom Conference Group. He is responsible for directing the group's editorial efforts, ensuring the quality of the content it delivers, and moderating and speaking at client events. A frequent lecturer and keynote speaker on a variety of technology topics, he has hosted more than 50 events in the past year alone.

    Bolles was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Interactive Week, developing its unique vision, the founding editorial director of Sm@rt Reseller magazine, creating the publication from initial research, and the founding Editorial Director of Yahoo! Internet Life, managing its successful launch. Bolles was also the Editor-in-Chief of Network Computing Magazine, and for one year was the host of 'Working the Web' for TechTV, covering a wide variety of technology-related topics. Until recently, he was a contributing editor to CIO Insight, writing on a broad range of technology subjects, and assisting in the coordination of the publication's research efforts.

    Bolles is the former Chief Operating Officer of Evolve Software, Inc., and the former VP of Marketing for Network Products Corporation. He has served as a marketing consultant to a variety of organizations, and has advised a number of software startup companies in arenas such as online marketing and data mining.

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