Change is constant

You’ve heard people say – Change is coming! the only constant in business is change.

It is no longer a given that all change and transformation is driven by the IT departments in our businesses any longer, isolating IT is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

IT budgets and change are moving towards the user – grey IT is no longer grey but maybe the IT function of the future. We are in the agile age, everything is about agility and being lean, needing things as quick as possible – time to market is critical.

All projects and discussions tend to be cross disciplinary, technical skills are no longer enough! IT now needs to embrace this to become good communicators, commercially aware and problem solvers for the business. If not what is it there for?

Creativity, vision and lateral thinking are key attributes for IT – for without it how can it provide what is required by the business?

Businesses focus on operations – ensuring their people and teams acquire the skills necessary to deliver the service or product. They understand this as they can see how they contribute and interact with the client. But in most businesses I have met and worked with IT is not taken into account, businesses tend not to think about what skills are needed by their IT to support or enhance the business.

Why? Generally they see IT as separate, so they don’t cultivate and grow it. IT generally enters the thought process when things have reached breaking point or things have gone wrong. In some cases business recognise the potential benefit but do not know how to harness it. Investing in permanent senior staff is too expensive and risky. IT needs to deliver first before we can invest, but IT can’t grow without the investment in skills – you are now in a catch-22 situation.

Scenarios like this or the reasons above tend to be the key reasons why businesses engage with me. I provide the link they need to get things moving, start the ball rolling and breaks them out of the catch-22 situation. The flexibility they suddenly have in the business in terms of knowledge, skills, and experience allows them to move forward in concert not piecemeal.

So how to make better use or even change IT so that it becomes a competitive advantage (for real not in theory). First of all “All initiatives are business initiatives”, there are no exceptions, everything should be traceable back to a business requirement. Below are the key strategies that your IT should focus on.

Identify any needs; proactively look for and find opportunities to improve business performance.

Organisational improvement; follows on from the previous point but specifically identifying how business processes need to change to deliver higher levels of performance. Implementing that change.

Development; design, acquire, develop, test new technology solutions that help implement the changes above.

Oversight; ensure that everything is operating efficiently, business as usual steps are robust and constant. Key to this is transparency and measurement to provide clear accountability, provide the business with clarity about the value of any investment made.

Follow these and you should see a marked change in what IT provides.

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2 thoughts on “Change is constant

  • I think there’s an unspoken obstacle which needs to be discussed in most business owners (large and small) minds. Software and solutions have been sold (more often than procured) on the back of lots of convincing rhetoric from salespeople and internal staff. We’ve both seen this before, and learned from it when we worked together. However, in financial services and possibly everywhere, the overwhelming attitude of business owners, I believe, is that software has been an expensively crushing disappointment on every conceivable level. The software salesman (often clothed as consultant) has a disastrously damaged reputation and as a result the word ‘technology’ makes many come out in hives. Is that something which is likely to change?

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  • Phil, there is that obstacle but I think it is an unfair stigma that has been attached to software and solution providers. No matter how hard they try and how much time they spend they will never know as much about your business as you do. They will rarely be able to customise a commoditised solution to fit your complete requirements which is why there is still demand for bespoke development. So in short probably won’t change in the short term – well not by them. The change will be influenced by Operations Directors, IT Directors, CIO etc… or whoever is the senior person(s) responsible for your operations and technology.

    If you have someone who has that experience, the ride will be much smoother and the focus should be on improvement. Not just a new system.

    Expectations that a new system will fix all your woes (without changing) are unrealistic – how successful it will be will depend on how willing both sides are to change. Use it as an opportunity and an exercise to see if we can positively change and work a better way. Don’t try to shoe horn a solution to fit the old way of working.

    Solution providers usually have a system that works for the majority of things but it is the more esoteric functions that cause the frustrations on both sides. They resist changes as it costs them more time and money – other clients may not want the changes which will make maintenance and support more and more expensive. increasing their costs and eventually the client businesses.

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