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CIO’s: Drive change through Automation and Uniformity

All of these terms, SaaS, DaaS, BaaS, XaaS… promising enhanced innovation, cost savings, strategic business value.  But how do you get there? How does your Organization harness these technologies. Cloud pitches are generic and not tailored to your Organizational needs, Your business is still left with the challenge of understanding how to use these services to your advantage, the challenge of re-inventing and implementing new processes and policies, restructuring and re-defining roles within your organization. The cloud is disruptive and requires an Organization-wide transformation to be effective.  Change is onerous, you’ve seen the challenge on the implementation of small projects. So what is the path to Enhanced Innovation, Cost Savings, and Strategic Business Value? How do you effectively change your existing processes and policies in a change-resistant culture. The answer is Automation and Uniformity. Before I explain I’d like to discuss the communication gap between Business and IT.  For years, it was Software and Infrastructure that defined the IT service that was delivered to the client.  The service was driven by IT personnel based on loose business requirements.  IT would communicate results to Management in technical terms that were misinterpreted or meant little value to Business.  Objectives were mis-defined due to lack of communication and understanding. Eventually, Business loses confidence in IT and treats IT as a cost-center as opposed to a business enabler.  Costs increase exponentially and spark consolidation projects. Consolidation projects that are planned and executed all by IT.

Governments and Large Businesses are burdened with heavy process and policy to manage change, resources, procurement, projects, assets, compliance, and liability. The process used to perform simple tasks can be cumbersome and convoluted and require governance to ensure process compliance.

With the advent of the Cloud, IT can now be driven by Business and used to provide strategic value to political and business objectives.

What is your Business? Suppose you have these two objectives. 1) Reducing Cost. 2) Improving IT Service.  By focusing on aligning IT to Business you could also effectively achieve 3) Unifying Process, Policy, and Culture.  Attempts to streamline process has been rarely successful and only in situations where strict governance has been implemented effectively.  I’ve seen a dozen products get setup and then unused… CRM’S , CMDB’s, Document Management, HR Software, Ticketing Software, and Asset Management Solutions have all had a cycle somewhere, some made it, most don’t.. and the one’s that are still used have veered off course since the first Powerpoint Presentation from the Vendor.

These cycles happen because a Business requirement determined the need for the solution, Professional Services is engaged to implement it, followed by the lack of requirements, drivers, and communication between IT and Business sets in.  Leaving the solution in a state of little Business Value, no way to measure impact or success, and an increased manual process.

I’ve worked with determined Process Engineers that capture current process and attempt to implement change with minimal success.  So why is it so difficult, and how can we fix it? The answer is Uniformity and Automation. Let me explain,

Uniformity is about standardizing process and the tools used across your Organization by presenting them to the user in a centralized way that provides a linear path providing only applicable options to the user based on their role and the action they are performing.

Automation makes it all possible by leveraging customized software to cross-exchange data with the systems required to perform the action and follow the correct process and policy.

I’m a firm believer in Simplicity… in my early days of IT I did a lot of software development on intranets and collaboration tools that companies used to measure progress, track changes, and reduce monotonous tasks required by policy and process.  A few things have become very apparent to me… People ignore process or cut corners when the options they’re presented are too cumbersome or aren’t relevant to the action they’re performing.  A common complaint for every IT Architect, Engineer, and Administrator working within a Government or Large Business is that they spend more time filling out forms and following other process/administrative related tasks then actually working on technology.  In one extreme example, I recall a process requiring over 30 forms over 4 months to deploy a single server.  Each of those forms to be reviewed and approved before proceeding with the action.  In addition, the Asset Management DB and Configuration Management DB must be updated manually, ticketing software is required to interact with the initial requestor, and a Document Repository with undocumented process to upload relevant documentation.  These are just the required actions of the IT Person. Other divisions involved in the deployment have their own forms and processes that could have cross-dependencies.

When the process is this manual and bloated, people tend to do things differently, resulting in inconsistent data.  Attempts to govern the process involve holding sessions to train users on how to navigate the process and forms, many times directing users to perform actions within a tool that aren’t relevant to the option because the tool hadn’t been updated in 6 years because the Professional Services that set it up had a lack of Business Requirements and had no Continuity plan when their contract expired.  Governance fails simply because people are asked to perform actions that do not make logical sense.  Over and over failing to impose change has increased the complexity of using IT efficiently.

In walks Uniformity…  The Liaison between systems, process, and people. The Front-Desk and concierge for everyone, guiding all users to complete their actions using intuition a simple menu-driven method.  Displaying only relevant data. Asking you questions relevant to what you need, and letting Automation handle the collection and submission of data to all the back-end systems necessary to cover process & policy. WithUniformity, you’ll never enter in the same information twice. there will never be inconsistent data, you won’t need to be trained on any product.  You won’t need to open any applications.

Users aren’t aware of any process, the process is automatically ensued within the system.  Everyone uses the same method to perform similar actions.

 


 

Paul J Harding

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