IT Management Issue
lost credit card numbers to a hacker. Hackers put Yahoo, eBay Inc., CNN
and others off line. First Security Corporation and Checkfree went live
with systems containing software defects that caused revenue shortfalls.
Hershey experienced lost sales orders and delayed shipments as did Whirlpool
and Volkswagen in a rush to bring their Enterprise Resource Planning Systems
on line. ASD Catalogs and Knight Ridder Shared Services had to deal with
the proliferation of desktop computer models, configurations, and vendors
before they could address business improvement initiatives.
of the incidents listed above caused companies to waste money. Shareholders
lost value from their investments and customers lost revenue or the opportunity
to earn revenue. In each incident, people had to spend time doing work
that added no value to the business. Investments had been made for people,
technology, and information that failed to deliver full value. In some
cases, the cause of vulnerability remained for some time following the
incident and caused additional and/or premium-priced investments to be
made in order to reinforce infrastructure.
today's marketplace, the buyer is in much more control of who supplies
their goods, services, and information. Standardization and other enabling
technologies such as e-Procurement brokerages have reduced barriers to
entry and lowered resistance to change. When a company fails to deliver
or demonstrates a weakness in its ability to deliver, incumbent and prospective
customers do reconsider and make changes.
suppliers will walk away from a customer that poses significant profitability
performance risk. Production capacity investments in a volatile marketplace
are becoming increasingly risky. Suppliers are compelled to identify and
acquire high-value customers and to shed low-value ones in their efforts
to achieve predictable and profitable performance. As a supplier, companies
must deliver competitively and consistently. As customers, companies must
act predictably and profitably. Business interaction models that depend
on information technology to demonstrate these desirable attributes must
be constructed on a strong foundation .
The information technology infrastructure has three domains that must
be managed in concert.
Technology Domain is comprised of the communications, processing, and
data storage systems upon which business applications such as logistics
and financial accounting are built. The Process Domain includes planning,
management, project-control, systems development, and other processes
that are employed by the information technology personnel.
The People Domain includes skills; levels of competence, environment,
culture and other factors that determine the ability of human resources
to perform work.
engaging in an information technology enabled business change, implications
of such a change and the systems that will deliver new operational capabilities
must be analyzed and supporting infrastructure capabilities must be built
into the plan. Only when the total scope of change to people, process,
and technology systems is known will the magnitude of the program become
apparent. Only then can the risks associated with the program be assessed
or not it is documented, every company has one or more architectures for
its people, process and technology systems. Some are structured and organized,
others need to be assembled from existing documents and actual configurations.
Some persist over time, others are reinvented every time a new need arises.
Major business change initiatives demand clear statements of how the business
technology systems are put together and how they interact with each other.
There are two levels that need to be examined.
architecture is a foreign term to many. However, all companies pay for
one in the course of a major information system deployment. System configurations
and integrators need to "know" how the company runs. How do transactions
flow? Who has responsibility for what? How is the company measured? How
are products priced? How will each unique customer-type be engaged? These
are all questions that will be answered - with or without business management
participation because the project must be completed!
Information Technology Infrastructure is the glue that binds business
application systems such as an e-Commerce system to an enterprise resource
planning system. It consists of the communication networks, processing
servers, data storage and integration, and other low-level components.
Information Technology Architecture is intended to establish a high-level
description of how technical components will form a platform to support
application systems that enable business processes. The processes that
it supports therefore drive Information Technology Architecture. Because
application systems deliver business value and because operating models
change, applications that relate directly to core business processes will
change over time. Therefore, infrastructure architecture must be designed
for a more distant future than applies to the applications that it serves.
is critical that the Information Technology Architecture that defines
the Infrastructure be designed to support immediate and future needs.
Otherwise the infrastructure will inhibit business change. It is also
critical that information technology infrastructure be capable of adapting
to expanded, contracted, and new business needs. Infrastructure that resists
change is an impediment to business agility.
adaptive infrastructure is based on standards to facilitate incorporation
of a wide range of applications. It is made up of layers of products such
as cable plant, routers, servers, and software tools that can be applied
to a wide range of situations and that can expand and contract in capacity
without excessive cost impact. It is also made up of people who have the
capacity to achieve high levels of competency with new technologies rapidly,
and it executes processes that have no inherent delays or waste.
- Build executive consensus around your future business architecture.
Use high-level diagrams to show how customers and products are brought
together and short vignettes to express the experience that customers
will have when the engage the company.
- Be sure that every process that is directly or indirectly effected
- Identify and clearly state infrastructure implications of new and
changed processes. Consider people, process, and technology.
- Ask the question: "Are we sure that we have the infrastructure
to plan, build, deploy, and support the new processes and technologies?"
- Do not just sponsor the program. Own the responsibility for delivering
new operational capabilities and business value.
- Accept that the cost justification for infrastructure is based
on the value of the business processes and the applications that it
supports. Infrastructure expenditures must precede applications and
- Insist that infrastructure investments be supported by an architecture
that can be related directly to the delivery of strategic value by
linking each project to the operational capability that it enables.
- Build information technology architecture from business architecture
that is forward looking and is stated in terms of the capabilities
that must exist to realize vision and execute the mission.
- Design systems capabilities from the customer in and from business
process down to infrastructure.
- Build an adaptive infrastructure first, then layer applications
and business process onto it.
- Be aware of the impact that information technology systems have
on business process and people systems, especially those that alter
empowerment and individual performance measurement systems.
- Own the responsibility for delivering enabling information technology
systems and for providing insight to business managers about those
technologies to assure productive transitions and maximize value-add.