Blog posts from 2010 - Page 2 of 3 - Differentis

If you are not smart sourcing, what are you doing? (1/2)

By Mark Helme

Date 19 September 2010 Tags

No company does everything themselves they all buy some services and perform others. There is nothing intrinsically peculiar about IT outsourcing; what catches imagination here is the scale of the deals, the emotions concerning off-shoring, and the spectacular failure of those deals which have turned nasty.

The motivation and context for outsourcing change, as do the technical conditions which enable it. It’s also likely that the recession will make companies reconsider their position, as they become more concerned with short term cost reduction (survival being the strategic goal) and quite what the consequences of the Satyam debacle will be have yet to be seen. There are, however, no more black or white decisions when sourcing than anywhere else.

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Managing the Business of IT (4/4)

By Mark Helme

Date 15 July 2010 Tags

Why “performance targets” don’t deliver performance

CIOs worry about what constitutes success – what they need to achieve, and how they should be judged. Apart from questions of applications and infrastructure and cost and change projects, they need to have a clear understanding of the levers they can pull and the effects this will have. They need to understand the practice of performance management, and of setting targets.

Performance is not an absolute but should be matched to need; but what should we measure, and how often? How should these statistics be used, and most importantly, how will people respond if they are turned into performance targets? Because performance target are often used as management incentives.

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Managing the Business of IT (3/4)

By Mark Helme

Date 15 May 2010 Tags

Size doesn’t necessarily matter, but what does?

We’ve argued before that thinking of IT as a business within a business is a helpful (if simplified) analogy.

In Part 1 of this series – dealing with costs – we argued that no successful business can avoid understanding its costs and cost structures for long, and proposed that they be represented in a matrix of resources and activities. In Part 2 we further argued that knowing the costs without understanding the value doesn’t get us very far, and as a first step to understanding value we looked at application quality, distinguishing between Functional and Technical Quality.

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Managing the Business of IT (2/4)

By Mark Helme

Date 13 April 2010 Tags

If your business is IT how do you judge your place in the market?

Last time we talked about needing an IT equivalent of a chart of accounts – and suggested that you needed a matrix to represent the cost of resources by activity (and vice versa) if you were serious about understanding what costs money.

There is much more we could say about the cost structures – what drives cost and how they operate – which become essential when you are contemplating change (new development, retiring applications, re-platforming services, or outsourcing).

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Managing the Business of IT (1/4)

By Mark Helme

Date 19 March 2010 Tags

Cynics, according to Oscar Wilde, know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. What about CIOs?

Dick Nolan and Dave Norton, founders of their eponymous IT strategy firm in the 1970’s were the first people we knew who talked of IT as being a business within a business, when CIOs began to seek seats on the Board, but as they pointed out, CIOs often lack a language to talk about their business.

Operations could talk about throughput, efficiency, quality, investment and maintenance; HR could talk about turnover, pay, management succession, and compliance; Finance could talk about cash flow, the P&L, and tax, and so on. But when the CIO talks of incidents and upgrades and operating systems, the room goes silent. What CIOs need, said Nolan, was an “IT Chart of Accounts” that would allow them to describe what they provided.

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