Technology and Human Capital–They Go Hand-In-Hand

So there are some mighty impressive places to work that really shine in terms of the technology they use and the constant desire to upgrade and improve their capabilities. 


Usually, these are also the places that value and respect their human capital because they view them as not just human pawns, but rather as strategic drivers of change. 


Then there are the places that are “so operationally focused” or just plain poorly run that they can’t be bothered to think about technology much at all or the people that make up the organization and its fiber. 


In many cases, the wheel may be turning, but the hamster is dead: 


There is no real enterprise architecture to speak of. 


There are no IT strategic or operational plans. 


There are no enterprise or common solutions or platforms. 


There is no IT governance or project/portfolio management. 


Even where there are some IT projects, they go nowhere–they are notions or discussion pieces, but nothing ever rolls off the IT “assembly line.”


How about buying an $800 software package to improve specific operations–that gets the thumbs down too. 


Many of these executives can’t even spell t-e-c-h-n-o-l-o-g-y!


It’s scary when technology is such an incredible enabler that some can’t see it for what it is. 


Rather to them, technology is a distraction, a threat, a burdensome cost, or something we don’t have time for.


Are they scared of technology?


Do they just not understand its criticality or capability?


Are they just plain stupid? 


Anyway, organizations need to look at their leadership and ask what are they doing not only operationally, but also in terms of technology improvement to advance the organization and its mission. 


Look to the organizations that lead technologically, as well as that treat their people well, and those are ones to ogle at and model after.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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>Leading Through Planning

>Recently, I was reminded of two pointers in developing an effective IT strategic plan:

  1. Strategic planning is about leadership and setting direction—There is an interesting saying with respect to this that the manager ensures that you do things right, and the leader ensures that you do the right things. The strategic plan, including the vision, mission, and value statements are about leadership establishing and communicating what the ‘right thing’ is. An effective metaphor for this is that the manager ensures that you climb the ladder, but the leader ensures that the ladder is up against the “right” wall.
  2. Strategic planning goals, objectives, and initiatives have to be aligned and actionable —that means that you need to set the strategic plan elements at an appropriate level of detail and in cascading fashion. One way to do this is to navigate up and down between goal, objectives, and initiatives in the following way: To navigate to a higher elements of the plan hierarchy, ask why. Why do we do XYZ? To navigate to lower levels of detail and specificity, ask how. How do or will we do XYZ.

Together, these two guidelines help to develop an IT strategic plan that is both effective in terms of goal setting and organizational focus as well as at the appropriate levels of detail and alignment to be truly actionable.

>IT Governance and Enterprise Architecture

>I came across an interesting IT Governance Global Status Report 2008 from the IT Governance Institute.

The study and report was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was the third one of its kind—the first two conducted in 2003 and 2005. In this latest study for 2007, interviews were conducted with 749 CIOs and CEOs in 23 countries.

Here are some interesting findings from the study on how enterprises are fairing on IT governance and my thoughts on these:

Championed by—in most cases CIOs champion IT governance (40%), followed by CEOs (25%), and then by CFOs (9%).

Since CIOs are predominantly responsible for IT governance, they need to step up and elevate governance as well as its complementary function, enterprise architecture, and resource it as a priority for effectively managing IT investments.

Business management engagement—68% of respondents said that business management participates (42%), leads (14%), or is fully accountable (12%) for IT governance.

From my experience, often business managers are more engaged in IT governance than IT managers; we need to work with the all the SMEs (IT and business) to understand the importance of IT governance and encourage and engage them for their active participation.

Positive view of IT—“Non-IT people…have a much more positive view of IT” than do IT people. 72% of general management agree strongly on the value creation of IT investment versus only 46% of CIOs.

We need to explore why IT professionals have a more negative view of IT than our customers on the business side of the house have and to reconcile this. Is it just that we are professionally self-critical or that know more about our dirty laundry?

Importance of IT to overall corporate strategy—“93 percent of respondents answered that IT is ‘somewhat’ to ‘very important’ to the strategy.”

IT is important to the business achieving its strategic goals. We need to ensure sufficient time, attention, and resources are allocated to developing an IT strategy and enterprise architecture that aligns to and support the business strategy.

IT governance implementation—Only 52% are ‘in the process of’ (34%) or ‘have already implemented’ (18%) IT governance; however, another 24% are considering implementing.

We need to pick up the pace of IT governance implementation. IT governance is critical establishing and enforcing the IT Strategic Plan and enterprise architecture, to vetting IT investment decisions and sharing risks with project shakeholders, and providing oversight and due diligence to ensure successfully project delivery.

Current IT governance practices—Some of these include: “IT resource requirements are identified based on business priorities” (80%), “boards review IT budgets and plans on a regular basis” (72%), “IT processes are regularly audited for effectiveness and efficiency” (67%), “Central oversight exists of overall IT architecture (IT Architecture Board or Committee)” (63%), “IT project portfolio is managed by business departments supported by the IT department” (59%), “Some form of overall IT Strategy Committee exists” (58%), Standard procedures exists for investment selection (IT Investment Committee)” (55%).

IT governance best practices are well established through frameworks such as COBIT, ITIL, and ISO20K. We need to leverage use of these frameworks to develop our organization’s IT governance solutions and ensure this vital enterprise architecture enforcement mechanism!

>Andy Blumenthal Presents User-centric Enterprise Architecture

>Check out this SlideShare Presentation: