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Information Technology (IT) has value.  That is a given. “Knowledge is Power” has been significantly enhanced and driven by information technology advancements.  We all understand the power of IT, but do we truly understand the value, and do we understand how an organization can measure the value?  Let’s explore and identify ways in which organizations can measure the value of IT and; thereby, gauge for themselves if they are securing the value for the cost.


Today, IT value can be categorized in two ways, tactical and strategic. 


From a tactical perspective, the value of IT is “keeping the lights on, ensuring the day-to-day operations continue”.  You must have a reliable infrastructure, a secure network and consistent communication capabilities.  IT doesn’t get a pat on the back for this anymore, it is expected.  The capability has to be sufficient, the service consistent and it must be cost effective and predictable. Organizational leadership needs to understand the approach IT is taking to provide the tactical capabilities.  The questions that need to be answered include: Are we operating day-to-day without gaps in service? Are we cost effective?  Have we leveraged the cloud effectively?  Have we looked to outsource what we can?  What is our uptime? How is customer service?  Very fair questions.  Leadership can and should develop quantitative measures to determine effectiveness and incorporate this into their daily operational procedures.


The strategic aspect of IT is where it becomes hard to measure from a quantitative aspect, it is more qualitative.  How is IT being utilized from a competitive perspective?  Are we leveraging IT from a marketing perspective?  Are we increasing customer satisfaction through information technology?  Are we utilizing IT to develop analytics to drive to our business outcomes?  How do we benchmark to our peers in the industry?  Maybe not as tangible but very important measures to consider.  Organizational leadership can work with the business departments and IT to identify the strategic measures.


The Angle? The only way you truly understand the value of IT is for organizational leadership to work with the leadership of the business units and IT to develop a set of tactical and strategic measures.  Once the measurements are in place, ongoing monitoring needs to occur to identify what is being accomplished vs. not and what adjustments need to be made to continue to operate in an effective manner.  Once this is in place, organizational leadership will be able to determine the value of information technology.


Is leadership really important?  Do you need to invest in ensuring you have the proper leadership in place when moving forward with a systems project?


You better believe it! Without it, you have no chance at success.


Simply stated, leadership is the art of being able to inspire others to accomplish a goal or objective and the science of having the ability to mobilize a team to accomplish that goal or objective.  For a systems project, leadership is needed at all levels; at the executive level, the project team level, and the end user level.  


Let’s explore all three. 


First, the executive level. Can you imagine being successful without executive leadership?  Every systems project creates significant change and we all know how much we love systems change!  When this change occurs, executive leadership must articulate why the project is necessary and the benefits of the change.  These are points only engaged and committed executive leaders can make.  Executive leadership cannot be delegated.  They have to provide the necessary leadership when the project is going well, when the project hits a speed bump or when a set of important constituents challenge the logic of the project.


Second, the project team level.  The steady hand of good leadership provides consistency of approach, plan and execution.  The role of project leadership is to take the strategic direction from the executives and translate that into system and business processes that accomplish those goals through the tactical implementation of the system, which will be accepted by the end user community. No easy task, but very achievable with effective project team leadership.


Third, the end user level. Project and executive leadership need to find and utilize the leaders in the end user community.  The individuals in the user community that understand why the systems project is necessary, understand the long-term goals and have the respect and trust of their fellow colleagues.


The Angle?  When you decide to move forward with a systems project, before you start, you need ensure you have strong executive leadership that can demonstrate in an authentic manner why the project is necessary, day-to-day experienced project leadership to lead, and end user community leaders that can sell the merits of the effort and change to their peers.

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