CIO 002 It's about People Created by James on 6/13/2013 3:04:23 PM
I.T. must be "World Class" is an objective frequently set for information technology investments.
But what IS "world class"?
Based on press coverage it would appear that "world class" is determined by specific technology. However, I.T is not primarily about technology, it is about INFORMATION that enables an organization to make better decisions that result in better business outcomes.
A "world class" solution comprises:
1. Comprehensive data engineering
Highly structured information content classification and coding of every element of information that is stored in the system.
This may be facilitated or hindered by the design of the software but it is not the software that counts as much as the manner in which the data is classified and coded in the database.
Computers only "understand" 0's and 1's and people only understand plain language so coding of data is the only way that computers and people can work with the same information.
If the data classification is not structured in a way that reflects strategic management thinking it will be nearly impossible for the computer system to supply strategic management information.
2. Appropriate fully integrated systems at data level
Integration of technology is only relevant insofar as it is required for all data to be integrated. There can be multiple technology platforms and integration of information is still possible.
3. High system operational efficiency and precision
High efficiency includes the requirement for all who use a keyboard to be fast and accurate touch typists. It also includes fundamentally intuitive information classifications and codes and robust, clear standards that enable users and operators to quickly and accurately enter and retrieve data and therefore information.
4. Strategic alignment of all operational systems
Failure to align I.T. solutions with the essential strategic drivers of the business is a major factor in I.T. investment failure and under-performance and therefore a major factor in achieving a world class solution. An accurate long term definition of the fundamental drivers of the business is critical.
A simple but critical driver such as "order in by 15h00 despatched by 09h00 next day" if not honoured in a system implementation of the "best" "best of breed" E.R.P. system will result in a failed implementation and can cripple or destroy a business. Effective focus on this factor in every facet of implementation of "mediocre" or "unknown" software can deliver a world class business outcome measured in terms of competitive advantage, growth, profitability and other critical measures of business performance.
5. Integrated, holistic business operations
Computer systems do not deliver value or business benefit, people do. An information technology solution which fits the business like a glove, not a business that fits the technology like a glove, is vital for a world class business outcome.
This requires top quality strategic business analysis and solution design, optimization of business and technology operation and effective implementation, including the management of the process of change, in order to deliver a world class business outcome.
This requires that change is well planned and infrequent.
6. Comprehensive management information with full drill-down
People make value adding business decisions, computers do not.
Support for effective management decision making with clear allocation of costs, accountability, reporting and action by people is an essential requirement for any business information technology solution. This is determined by the data classification and coding, the policies, standards and procedures much more than it is determined by the technology.
7. Comprehensive strategic analysis and decision support capability
I.T has developed to a point that it is way ahead of the ability of business to use it effectively and profitably.
A "world class" solution is a solution that results in world class business decisions and actions that create measurable, visible competitive advantage that results in growth, market share, profitability and other visible indications of sustainable success.
Information technology today is strategically critical for many businesses but it is seldom THE critical factor. People and their actions are critical.
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