Monday, 9 April 2012

The Importance of Pushing Forward IT Initiatives

A bit of a random post here; the idea for the post just bubbled up into consciousness and had to be let out!

Information Technology is a forever evolving and progressing arena. Depending on your job role, you may well be expected to be the one (or one of the ones) that pushes your company forward in terms of Technology and IT Service offerings, and even if this is not your job role, it cannot but help your future career prospects to show some initiative and foresight.

I am not talking about the usual process of upgrading existing systems – such as vSphere 4.1 to vSphere 5 U1, Windows 2003 to 2008, Exchange 2003 to 2010, etcetera – it is taken as a given that these upgrades are naturally in the pipeline, just waiting for some time to be set aside to do them. What I am talking about are initiatives that represent a sea change to the established way of doing things  – an adoption of new products, technologies and services to the business.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Your ideas may come from thinking about solutions to existing pain points in the business, areas where efficiences can be achieved, and daring to think big and imagining how new technology offerings could benefit the business. The solutions might come from talking with your colleagues, from your technology partners, from your service providers and their IT Consultants, from your professional network, from webinars, from seminars, from IT Expos (exhibitions), blogs, InfoTech websites, YouTube, word of mouth, and many many more different places.

Turning the idea into a concept!
Of course, when a good idea has come up, someone has got to grab it by the horns and turn it into a concept to be put forward to the stakeholders, otherwise it will stay just that – a good idea in someone's head. And this is where it gets interesting, as substantial personal qualities are required to push the initiative forward – such as patience, excellent communication skills, optimism, and courage.

Questions you will need to answer:
Q: How much is it going to cost?
Remember that it is not about looking for a solution at the cheapest price, it is about looking for a solution that can be obtained at the most effective price. Any initial outlay would need to be weighed in terms of future cost saving – perhaps due to efficiency savings from automation of repetitive tasks – or in terms of how the business will profit out of the new solution.
Q: Why do we need this?
You will need to be able to lay out why this IT initiative is needed, what purpose will it serve, and how it will help people. Perhaps not doing it will hand business rivals an advantage.
Q: What is the value to the business of this solution?
Any new IT initiative/service must offer true value to the company.
Q: But everything is running fine?
Often, everything is running fine on the surface, unseen by the corporate leaders uninvolved in the day-to-day IT operations, but this may hide a highly fragile IT infrastructure. Perhaps the IT team are struggling on a shoestring, faced with archaic backup systems that do not work, a non-existent DR system, unresilient hardware just waiting to break down, and security holes just waiting for an opportunist hacker to break into.
The everything is running fine argument needs to be weighed against, if we do not do this then this might happen, and the cost of that happening is .... Also, depending on the industry, you can be sure that rival corporations will be trying to do just what the IT Strategist is trying to push forward; that is to automate, find efficiency savings, find solutions which give real business value, and generally trying to improve systems and services, and make life better/easier for end users.
Q: How long will it take?

Final Word
IT should never been a hindrance to corporate growth, so the IT Strategist is always looking for ways to push the envelope, and keeping ahead of any need for new resources and capabilities. The IT Strategist often has to fight with a sea of negativity, reluctance, and inertia to change. To those of you who manage to force through succesful new IT initiatives that deliver true business value – we salute you!
PS Apologies if the picture offends.

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