I have considerable experience and highly developed skills within business
process; change management; business analysis, design and specification;
project and programme management; the relationship between I.T. and the
business; which are all essential components of good I.T. Management.
However, I also believe that approach and style is key to successful
achievement of objectives and I summarise below my approach to these areas. I
have listed points that I consider to be the most important but this is not
comprehensive by any means.
- Business process needs to be effective, efficient,
clearly understood by staff, and support both corporate standards as
well as strategic objectives.
- Whilst business processes should be regularly
reviewed to ensure these requirements are met, I also believe that
change in process requires time to bed-in and deliver the benefits. A
balance is required between regular process re-engineering and
maintaining the status-quo.
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- Having made a decision to change, management of the
change will be key.
- Thorough planning must be carried out with
consideration given to the impacts upon customers, staff, suppliers, and
other affected parties.
- There must be a strong emphasis on the communications
plan and its implementation as without this most change programmes will
fail. Buy-in must be achieved from key influencers within and without
- Corporately, risk management is also paramount and
requires agreement with senior management that risk is acceptable, is
mitigated as much as possible and is balanced with the change
- Major change management needs to be carried out by a
person with a thorough knowledge of the business and ideally not
responsible to any specific department or discipline such as I.T. or
operations. This will improve the ability of the manager to ensure
corporate objectives are met and that effort is coordinated across
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analysis, design and specification
- Business analysis needs to be structured to ensure
requirements are accurately and comprehensively identified.
- However, as with all structured methodologies, this
must be adapted to the needs of the business and the scale of the
- Getting to the root of true business requirement is a
skill in itself and those without a thorough knowledge of the business
processes are not likely to succeed. People within an organisation do
not necessarily express true requirements. Many requirements can be
conflicting and there is also the issue of managing requirements within
the scope and scale of a project or programme consistent with business
- In my experience, most projects that fail to deliver
do so because requirements are not properly identified, analysed and
specified. A requirements specification often becomes a means unto
itself that stakeholders in the project fail to understand. Not
surprisingly, there can then be subsequent surprise at what the project
- Apart from a structured and pragmatic approach to
business analysis, design and specification, I am also keen to explore
more demonstrable methods such as prototyping and dynamic methods of
specification where these are applicable.
- I have managed projects using AGILE approaches and believe
that this can be a very effective method of delivering projects quickly.
However, such an approach can have drawbacks and user involvement and commitment
is key to the success of such an approach. I am
particularly well equipped to manage user involvement and commitment in
retail and can be a deciding factor in the success of AGILE driven
projects and programmes.
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and programme management
- As with business analysis, I am a great supporter of
structured methodology, in particular PRINCE2 in which I am a certified
- PRINCE2 places great emphasis on stakeholder
involvement in the control of a project or programme but this is much
more difficult to achieve in practice. Consequently this aspect is often
skirted around and one of the key benefits of this methodology is
unexploited. It takes business knowledge and excellent communications skills
to gain the respect of the stakeholders to support the process.
Knowledge of the process alone or too significant an emphasis on
technical aspects will kill this critical success factor for any project
- It is also important to ensure that methodology is
not sacrosanct. The method will need to be adapted to the project or
programme. Major projects may require all aspects of the method to be
implemented in full, others may only use certain elements. The skill is
being able to identify which elements need to be applied, ensuring these
are then stringently implemented.
- I remain amazed at how many projects and programmes
fail to emphasise benefit delivery as a key stage. This often comes as a
post implementation afterthought and is more about justifying the
project than really sweating it for business benefit. A benefit
realisation plan is crucial and any project cannot be regarded as
complete until this has been implemented. It should also be remembered
that whilst key promoters may not want to admit it, benefits delivered
can often end up different to those defined at the instigation of the
- Projects and particularly major programmes, take time
to be executed successfully. There is often too little time or money
allowed by the business to achieve this and there needs to be an
on-going assessment of progress, costs and delivery that is communicated
and understood by stakeholders.
- Rigorous management on a daily basis will normally be
required to keep progress on track but if plans need to be adapted in
response to changing business requirements or circumstances, the
flexibility to do this should also be built-in.
- Major programmes that take a very long time to be
delivered should be avoided as they are most difficult to keep in sync
with a changing business environment. Ownership, management and external
factors change, causing significant revisions of strategy and policy. By
the time some major programmes are complete their relevance has become
diminished and dis-benefit can occur. It is often much better to break
down such programmes into smaller more rapidly deliverable elements.
Getting the balance right can be crucial not just to business
performance but sometimes stark survival!
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between I.T. and the business
- If a project or programme is predominantly I.T. based
there is a tendency for it to gradually become separated from
stakeholders and users. This is a natural consequence of the significant
differences between I.T. and other disciplines within a company. I.T.
people are, often rightly, focussed on technical issues that other parts
of the business cannot understand. Similarly I.T. people often see the
business world in a somewhat sterilised, logical way that can often lead
to solutions and processes being inappropriately forced upon the
business for the sake of good I.T. practice.
- Unless I.T. is managed in a manner that is proven to
be effective, it will end up costing the business and become a break on
progress. Often businesses that feel this is happening will outsource
I.T. functions to service companies whose business is built around
running I.T. effectively and often more efficiently than what can be
- Effective communication and understanding between
I.T. and other areas of the business is crucial. This becomes even more
so when I.T. functions are outsourced. What should never be outsourced
is this key link. A business requires senior people that have a good
understanding of both the business operations and processes as well as
the needs of I.T. This unit is sometimes referred to as 'business
systems' and should be the primary vehicle for determining I.T. strategy
and establishing business requirements. When I.T. functions are
outsourced this unit should manage the relationship with the outsourcing
company. It may not always be appropriate to have a separate unit and
this function may be integrated into the business operations of the
company. However, without the right people who are capable of commanding
respect within both the operational and I.T. disciplines, it will be
much more difficult to achieve a long lasting I.T. contribution to the
- I.T. is truly capable of driving business strategy.
Technology is an enabler that can also be a catalyst. People capable of
exploiting this potential within a business are rare as it does require
a good understanding of the application of technology within businesses
and not just of the technology itself. Businesses that understand this
requirement will be leading their respective industries.
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