Peter Grant

Peter Grant

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Conclusion: Before IT managers can start to measure targets against a balanced scorecard or any other mechanism it is important to agree with business executives what the targets will be measured and what each target actually means.

IT managers can use a combination of frameworks such as Balanced Score Card and CobiT to set and communicate targets to their staff and the wider organisation.


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Conclusion: Many State and Federal Government Agencies across Australia are faced with a dilemma.  Their attempt to restrict the level of ICT salaries for permanent employees has created a situation where Government IT managers cannot compete for quality ICT professionals.  Their only avenue for hiring top-flight staff is through contracting.  This has lead to an excessive dependency on expensive contracting even for day-to-day IT delivery.


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Conclusion: Most organisations conduct a business case before making major ICT investments and almost all choose not to invest in a system if its business case does not stack up. 

While all this sounds wonderfully logical, it does not explain how we have made investments in products like e-mail.  Few organisations bothered to conduct a business case for e-mail and even fewer have ever attempted to deliver any benefits from their investment in e-mail.


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If you are a lover of ‘Fawlty Towers', you might remember Mrs Richards - arguably Basil's most difficult guest.  No matter what Basil offered to do for her, it was never enough.  Finally, he offered (among other things) to ‘Move Mt Everest six inches to the left'.  I am sure if he had achieved this, she would have complained that it should have been moved seven inches.  Basil's problem was that neither he nor Mrs Richards could agree on a reasonable outcome that would satisfy both of them.

Many IT managers face this very same problem.  They work with business stakeholders on initiatives without agreement on what a successful outcome might be.  Now at this stage most readers are saying, ‘that's not me - we have everything specified'.  Well, specifications are one thing.  The expectations people have deep in their hearts are something else again.


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Conclusion: Better vendors tend to be selective about their clients.  Over the years, I have been in many bid-no-bid meetings where it was decided we would not bid for work with a client because the costs and risks of doing business with them was too high.

Good vendors treat good clients like gold.  Difficult clients on the other hand often attract two types of vendors - vendors who are not good enough to win business from good clients or vendors who charge difficult clients a hidden premium.  Difficult clients can expect low quality service from both types of vendors.  Even the better vendors will put their weaker performers on the accounts of difficult clients.  After all, why would anyone put good people on a painful and generally low profit account?


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Conclusion: Effective ICT architectures allow organisations to become smart buyers of applications and infrastructure; and, ensure that technologies work together in a cohesive and effective way.  Attempting an ICT strategic planning project without an effective architecture carries three major risks.  

  1. The planning team will struggle to turn business ideas into ICT initiatives.
  2. The planning team will need to make decisions about potential ICT investments without sufficient time to analyse how well these investments may or may not work with the existing applications portfolio.
  3. Technical implementations may differ from the initiatives specified in the plan through lack of architectural standards.

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Conclusion: In his book Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin argued ‘that it is neither the strongest, nor the most intelligent but most responsive to change that survive'.   Over the last four decades we have seen many species of IT professionals rise to lofty heights briefly prosper and then rapidly become extinct.  If you are of the Genus IT Darwin's theory of evolution is critical to your career.


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Conclusion: Very few organisations have effective ICT strategic planning processes resulting in a poor return of investment for ICT assets and missed business opportunities. 

Do not confuse ICT strategic plans with technical ICT plans.  ICT strategic plans are business oriented and focus on the future systems portfolio and its contribution to future business priorities.  Technical ICT plans simply focus on the technology investments an organisation needs to make over time.  A technology plan will be just one of many deliverables from an effective ICT strategic plan.


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Conclusion: This paper argues that managing staff with outdated skills and removing poor performers are the real resourcing problems facing many IT managers.   

IT managers must take personal responsibility for staffing and skills management. All of the valuable staff in the IT area are relying on YOU the IT manager to deal with poor performers and unaligned skills. Working with poor performers frustrates good staff and drives them out of your organisation. You’re their only hope! Don’t let them down or they will leave.

IT managers need to look at four key techniques for developing the right skills mix in their organisations. These are the new team strategy, re-skill staff to leave, re-skill staff to stay, and termination.


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Conclusion: Without a proven framework that reflects the true value of each system in their portfolio IT managers and business unit managers run the risk of incorrectly prioritising new ICT investments and inappropriately identifying the risks associated with these investments.

To gain a clearer picture of the value and risk associated with each new ICT investment IT managers should map their proposed and existing systems portfolio on frameworks such as the Strategic Grid. This allows investments to be analysed and the results shared with a business audience.


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Conclusion: In 2004 many new IT initiatives (especially e-business and business intelligence initiatives) are likely to expose organisations to new technologies and business processes. These new technologies and business processes will require organisations to embark on new experience curves. Organisations that assume their existing track record will be sufficient to take on these new experience curves will find that seemingly low risk projects begin to fail.

Business and IT executives need to recognise that endeavours involving new experience curves must be managed as high risk ventures and where possible organisations should look to minimise the rate at which they expose their business and industry to new experience curves.


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Conclusion: As a CIO, or an IT Manager, a key part of your job will be helping business leaders recognise opportunities where IT could improve the way they do business.

If you haven’t made an effort to build a personal relationship with your peers BEFORE you try to give them business advice you will almost certainly fail. Put simply, if they don’t like you they won’t trust you and they won’t listen to your advice.


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Conclusion: Many organisations have two business strategies – an actual strategy and an espoused strategy.For IT managers this creates a major problem because these actual and espoused strategies can be very different. If the IT managers align IT systems and processes to the organisations espoused business strategy they will almost certainly make inappropriate IT investments in terms of the actual business strategy.

Recently I found one example where business executives said their organisation was aiming for product / service innovation while the IT manager was implementing an architecture aimed at overall cost leadership. These two different business strategies require completely different systems portfolios supported by equally different IT architectures. In this case the IT manager and the business executive were heading for an inevitable disagreement – one the IT manager was going to loose.

IT managers need to work with business managers to uncover their actual business strategy. To do this IT managers and business managers need to become familiar with a new set of concepts – ones that help business managers uncover the gap between what organisations would like to be and what they really are.


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Conclusion: Inability to manage the plethora of projects cutting across most organisations can lead to failed initiatives, an inability to align ICT and business investments, a lack of confidence in the organisation's ability to innovate and even substandard operational performance - quite simply operational performance can fall because renewal projects become late or are ineffective.

The main reason that these problems occur is that business initiatives are spawned within functional hierarchies and these hierarchies tend to act like silos. Organisations that are looking to effectively balance goal based and role based work need another structure to support the governance process so that resources and initiatives can become visible to the entire organisation. This paper recommends that a project office correctly implemented can play a key role in supporting the governance of goal based activities.


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