How do organizations create a responsive IT strategy and improve the success of IT projects that are focused on agility and innovation? Former Network Services Co. CIO Michael Hugos emphasizes six key factors:
Only automate routine business operations. Eighty-to-ninety percent of business activities fall into the routine category, says Hugos, and that is where IT should focus its automating efforts for efficiency and low cost. Unique or non-routine activities change quickly and are best handled by people.
Maximize the use of IT you already have. Develop new systems by leveraging capabilities and features of existing systems. This can be achieved, Hugos says, by building data links between existing systems and creating simple user interfaces that blend together functions in existing systems.
Utilize technologies that enable agile IT. Take advantage of the technologies that will help create responsive organizations, such as: server virtualization; cloud computing; software as a service; services oriented architecture; mashups; and agile IT system development.
Empower your people. Provide the training to give people the skills they need to do their job, give them clear direction on the objectives to be accomplished, free them up to find the right solutions on their own, then reward the team when the work is done. Resist the urge to tell people how to do their jobs: Coordination works, control doesn't.
Have a separate project office. This allows the CIO to get regular project status reports without disrupting the development teams from the work they are doing.
Provide 80% solutions. To capitalize on business opportunities before the profit margins dip, the scope and focus of an agile IT solution should be limited. Don't try to address all the issues or you'll end up with scope creep. Eighty percent solutions are agile, 100% solutions let others pass you by. Focus on the here and now and do less analysis, says Hugos.
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