How does an IT organization shift from keeping the lights on to transforming a business? There is a clearly defined path that every IT leader navigates. We call this the IT Value Journey and will briefly explain it here.
When it comes down to the most basic view, every IT leader focuses on three key priorities:
- Maintain the infrastructure and systems,
- Enhance the infrastructure and systems, and
- Transform the business.
Not every organization has the same amount of focus on each of these areas. The proportion of time, investment, and results in each of these spaces is what differentiates IT organizations from each other. And, that balance also determines the value that IT creates for the business.
The IT Value Journey is a strategic roadmap to navigate, quickly and effectively, along these regions of IT activity. In the past 20 years, we’ve built and executed IT strategies with numerous organizations, enabling them to navigate the IT Value Journey in as little as 18 months.
Let’s explore the journey.
Milepost 1: Maintain
Your IT team may be stalled in the Maintain region if you are simply keeping the lights on. These organizations are nearly 100% focused on break/fix and don’t seem to have the time or resources to add value for the business. There are little to no IT metrics and value can’t be measured. Many business leaders tell us that the IT organizations in Maintain mode are actually inhibiting business growth.
When you get good at customer service, infrastructure monitoring, and project prioritization and management, you begin to earn trust, credibility, and respect from the rest of the business. The acquired efficiency and effectiveness enable you to start shifting attention to the system enhancements that enable IT to keep up with the business and start adding value.
Milepost 2: Enhance
In the Enhance region of the journey, you’re delivering better basic service at a lower cost, and can move resources to the infrastructure and software updates that the business needs and expects. At this stage, you can start measuring the value that IT creates. In the Enhance zone, the Maintain activities go into continuous improvement mode, driving incremental efficiencies and better quality, quarter after quarter.
Trust, credibility, and respect accelerate in the Enhance region when you can communicate strategic IT metrics. In a previous article we discussed key metrics like improved customer satisfaction with steadily reduced costs, or more software features delivered in less time at lower cost and with greater quality. These measures are meaningful to business leaders, and they objectively illustrate the value that IT is creating.
The magical transition from Enhance to Transform often seems to begin when a business executive one day invites the IT leader to lunch to discuss a new project idea. I use this example because I’ve seen it numerous times. It’s an indication that IT is starting to be viewed differently – not as a black hole to pour cash into, but as a potential strategic asset.
Milepost 3: Transform
Now the journey moves toward the Transform region. Maintain and Enhance go to continuous improvement and you start moving more resources into transformational projects that enable new businesses, drive new revenue, or dramatically reduce costs. This is when IT gets a seat at the head table and begins to take a true leadership role in the business. You continuously measure, communicate and improve all IT metrics, and clearly illustrate the value of IT.
IT doesn’t transform the business overnight. You earn the opportunity to operate at a highly strategic level by incrementally improving every aspect of IT and measuring the value created. The roadmap is summarized in the IT Value Journey and emphasizes continuous improvement that enables IT to delver greater value by shifting from Maintain to Enhance to Transform.
This has been a high-level overview of the IT Value Journey. In upcoming articles we’ll discuss the strategy, measures, and action plans that you can use to accelerate your journey.
How Are You Doing?
We’ve created a brief, 3-question survey to see where organizations are on their IT Value Journey, where they need to navigate to, and how they plan to get there. As a special incentive, we’re offering a free 30-minute discussion with Larry for anyone that completes the survey. This is not a sales call and we never share your information with anyone else, including marketers. The call is to share insights and provide you with at least one tip (hopefully more) that will enable you to create more value from IT.
Click here to complete the IT Value Journey Survey and get your complimentary 30-minute consultation.
Larry Wolff is the founder & CEO of Wolff Strategy Partners, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Enterprise Strategy Management and Digital Transformation. Larry has served as CEO, COO, CIO, chief digital officer, and management consultant for public, private, international and emerging growth companies. His specialties include corporate and IT strategic planning, technology led business transformation, business and IT turnarounds, merger integration and large-scale project rescues.