by Bobby Cameron

Bobby-Cameron On Tuesday of this week I hosted a webinar - "Assessing And Developing Your IT's Leadership Practices Today And Into The Business Technology Era." As promised, below are the answers to questions about business technology (BT) maturity assessment that we weren’t able to cover. If these still leave issues unaddressed, please ask follow-up questions — either by leaving a comment or setting up an inquiry.

Question: The output of the maturity assessment would be transformation plans. A hot spot we are finding is making sure all transformation plans move in the same direction. Any best practices to ensure everyone pulls in the same direction?

Answer: That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? With or without BT in the mix. A well run enterprise — including well run IT — has a system of practices which integrate strategy, annual planning, investments, and ongoing operations into a mix that moves the firm forward:

• Setting clear direction (strategy) and applying metrics to test progress against that direction is fundamental — you’ve got to know where you’re going. This starts at the executive level and cascades into the various business organizations, including IT (which, of course, has to coordinate with the rest of the firm).

• Annual investment planning is best done when explicitly driven by the strategy. Portfolio management is the process which best handles this, recording all opportunities and providing the basis for assuring that the mix of planned investments targets the strategy in a balanced manner.

• Ongoing operations should regularly (weekly / monthly / quarterly) test whether they are actually achieving the intended directions set forth in the strategy. Again, this requires metrics.

BT adds complexity in that multiple service providers engage with the enterprise to deliver on the strategy, but it’s still incumbent on the business organizations (including IT) to assure that the capabilities provided by these external providers are in tune with the strategic intentions of the corporation. Read here that SLAs and metrics for external providers have to be able to demonstrate success against the business strategy

Question: Does the maturity assessment instrument (spreadsheet) come with detailed instructions about how to complete the assessment (weightings, etc.)?

Answer: The quick answer is yes. We provide the detailed questions for the specific issues — and automatically apply the weightings that we think appropriate. We also detail how you can update the weightings if your interests / needs / realities differ from the ones we’ve pre-packaged.

Question: How do you see Business Intelligence (BI) fitting into the BT landscape?  What would "mature" placement and rollout of BT look like on the BT continuum? How would this impact the completion of the assessment (weightings, etc.)?

Answer: I suspect that it’s an axiom that the closer an IT activity is to the business user, the greater BT’s impact on that activity. That would mean that BI is front-and-center. In fact, you’re probably aware of Forrester’s extensive work around the Information Workplace (IW) — the delivery of content (structured and unstructured) in the context of the individual user. And one of the key focuses of IW is the ability to give the user greater control over how the information comes into the users’ environment (refresh rates, format, applied analysis, etc.).

As for applying the BT maturity assessment, as I mentioned on the call, this implementation is focused on IT-management issues. This means that BI is not singled out as a focus — but all of the IT planning and investment processes are included, including working with the business users.