Effective IT Management
By IT Support AU
For businesses and non-profit organisations, there’s a tendency to focus towards sales and forget about the importance of managing technology effectively. Without proper management and implementation of technology, businesses cannot achieve their goals and objectives set out in IT Strategy.
Effective IT Management
Effective use of technology allows businesses to transform themselves, compete with the market, empower staff and provide a better user experience. When IT isn’t being managed proactively staff have IT problems that never seem to get solved which can be traced back to a lack of proper IT management or it could be that IT solutions that have been purchased but may not have ever been deployed, if deployed but not being used by the staff.
In an organization where the staff are constantly frustrated and unhappy with their IT in general the main culprit is the lack of IT management. Failed projects that end up not being successful can be due to
a) they don’t achieve the objectives that they were set out to achieve,
b) they never get completed,
c) IT projects that run well over budget and do not achieve the original scope of the project.
The key to preventing all of these things from occurring is efficient IT management. What happens when data or sensitive information goes missing? This could be either through the attack of a virus that renders all of your files inaccessible or through a hacking event. What if there is a hardware failure and the IT department can’t restore the information that is lost.
If the information goes missing, you’re losing a valuable business asset and it can be traced back to the lack of proper IT management and things can happen, that end up costing the organization a lot more than they would have if the business managers invested in IT management.
It’s true, there are bad technology solutions and inappropriate technology solutions which don’t suit the business goals, objectives and IT strategy. Generally speaking, it’s more common for there to be inappropriate solutions that are poorly implemented and improperly supported. That again can be traced back to poor or a lack of efficient IT management
IT management doesn’t always receive the proper attention. There’s a strong business case for focusing on IT management. Without it, the technology won’t function properly and fail to deliver business value and ultimately fail to deliver a return on investment. Since IT services can be expensive, it could end up being a significant portion of an organization’s budget.
Technology must be implemented in a way that delivers a return on investment for the business and its stakeholders. There is a wide range of frameworks for thinking about efficient IT management such as COBIT, Microsoft operations framework people have even tried to apply manufacturing methodologies such as Six Sigma. By far the most popular is ITIL.
ITIL although most effective, essentially is a set of methodologies that you the business managers can follow to manage IT effectively and the model that effective IT departments keep returning to and have found useful.
“Effective IT Management is essential in delivering optimal value and return for organisations.”
Gartner’s infrastructure and Operations Maturity Model
The maturity models are mainly used by organisations to define
- the maturity level of an organization
- how well that organization is delivering IT services to the rest of the business
- it’s rating the maturity of the IT department as it relates to the rest of the business.
Maturity Level Zero
If an organisation is at zero-maturity level, they are just barely surviving. They systems and IT are unmanaged and they are constantly putting out fires and there’s no proactive approach to implementing or managing IT solutions. In other words, technology is largely ignored and it brings no value to the business, at the same time there’s no alignment between IT and the rest of the organization.
Maturity Level One
maturity level one is the awareness of technology within the organisation and there’s some understanding that there’s a problem but there’s no committed effort to solving the problem.
Maturity Level Two
Level Two Maturity is there’s committed steps being taken and the organization is committed to improving its IT maturity but its governance hasn’t yet put into place standard IT processes or practices. It could also be that it may not have yet implemented an organizational structure that can effectively deliver IT services.
Maturity Level Three
Maturity Level Three is the first proactive level and a proactive approach towards business technology. IT is finally being taken seriously within the organisation, that can include things like an annual IT plan, annual IT budget, maintenance of technology solutions, all of these are examples of proactive maturity level three. This level of Gartner Maturity Model is where the IT services that are being delivered are aligned with the business needs and goals of the organization.
In the case of nonprofits (without a business case), the mission requirements states that the organization goals are being effectively communicated to the IT department. In delivering the IT services and IT Solutions for the organisation, the IT department is keeping those in mind and aligning itself with the needs of the firm.
Maturity Level Four
The top business level or maturity level is the equal business partnership with the IT department. When IT is seen as an equal stake holder with the rest of the organization and the strategic planning of the organization involves IT in an integral level. The senior leadership of IT is considered to be the senior leadership of the organization as a whole and IT provides integral value.
Worth noting is the Gartner maturity model is a process for organisations and organisations don’t just go straight from survival to business IT partnership. The model requires that a process to go from maturity level zero to maturity level four, the business managers really have to implement efficient IT management and standardized IT processes within their organisation.
Business Alignment and Management Capability
Effective IT Management depends on alignment of IT Strategy with Business management. You can map this maturity model with two axis with IT Management Capability on one axis and Business Alignment on the other. When you have very low business IT alignment and very low management capability, you’re going to be down at a maturity level zero or one and as you move up in the maturity levels your business capability is increasing dramatically and the business alignment of IT with the business needs of the organization is also increasing dramatically.
The two scale factors can help us define the various organizational approaches to their IT, that you often find in the commercial and nonprofit sector. In the quadrant shown, the X axis shows the scale of business aligned and non-aligned. On the other axis, unmanaged and managed scale is depicted. The organizations that have low management capability are in lower left-hand axis and not aligned with the business needs, are in a dysfunctional situation.
if an organisation or a business is in a situation where IT is just dysfunctional chances are it’s not being managed properly. The services that are being delivered by the IT department or just an individual or outsource to a provider are not functioning optimally. The IT services are not aligned with the business needs of the organization which is not an ideal situation for the business because it just leads to a lot of frustration and also to a lot of wasted resources
In the second scenario, managers start to manage their IT a little bit more effectively and still not be completely aligned with the business and in that scenario, IT is seen as a cost center. These organizations have the management capacity and starting to manage their IT more effectively but they’ve not necessarily aligned IT solutions or IT services with the business needs of the organization and in those situations, IT is perceived as a cost center, a necessary evil that demands business expense and does not provide or generate value for the business.
For example, employees need a laptop to work, to do the work they have to be able to send and receive email, create documents and so forth. IT is seen as a necessary evil that demands expense but not really as an investment that’s expected to provide some kind of return for the organization.
In the third scenario, the best situation occurs when IT solutions and services are aligned with the business needs and also well-managed by the management. IT is seen as creating value for the rest of the organization, staff and customers. This is a mutually beneficial situation both for the organization and for the IT department. The group or the person that’s responsible for IT services is seen as creating value for the rest of the organization.
As organisations move to the right side of the quadrant from left, the value of their investment also grows. The dysfunctional organizations spend less on IT and their total IT spend is less compared to IT aligned businesses and well-managed organizations. They also have the lowest level of return on their investment because they’re not getting any value from their IT department.
This concept can be particularly challenging for nonprofit organizations because they tend to not have a revenue generating model and limits on their ability to generate revenue. By their nature they are in a cost control situation and the return on investment tends to be measured more in the form of social benefit or mission terms rather than in financial terms.
For business managers, it can be hard to create a case for IT investment because often creating value doesn’t take the form of a financial investment so the cost benefit analysis can be a little bit more challenging. With the help of the Gartner efficient IT Management model, a case can be made for organizations with higher levels of IT maturity, tend to be more effective in accomplishing their goals and achieving their business goals and IT strategy which is the primary objective of the board or the senior leadership.
The IT department needs to make a case that investing properly in IT will help the organization or the business, achieve its goals and IT strategy more effectively and create value. If the case can be made, then it’s possible to recruit the governance of the organization into a position of fostering improved IT maturity.
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