10 Lessons Learned About Information Management

Published on Tuesday 3 April 2012 by in Blog with no comments

Results of a Bookstore™ session with senior business managers!

IT is becoming increasingly mission critical to many organizations. The developments and possibilities of IT are becoming more and more pervasive, think of ipads, mobile technology and social media. Also, new solutions are on offer such as Cloud, or Software as a Service.  Information systems are used to both support and enable business operations. They can offer strategic advantages, open new business channels, improve customer contact and reduce costs of operations. IT organizations are faced with a dilemma:  make or buy. They are faced with a need to understand all of these new information demands from the business and possibilities for providing these.

The role of Information management is becoming increasingly important. Frameworks such as BiSL are becoming popular. However, key issues still are:

  • Too little understanding of business impact and priority
  • IT is too internally focused
  • Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing
  • 80% of business managers see the need for effective Business and IT alignment only 15% say they are aligned.

BookStore™ Business Simulation

We had the opportunity to deliver a BookStore™ Business Simulation to 12 senior Business Managers. Amongst them Board Members, CIO’s, CFO’s and other Senior Business Managers of a large company that deliver exams, surveys, measurements and other statistical services to the top companies in Holland. For this organization Information is a Business Asset. The objectives were:

  • Create within this group awareness about the need for a structured way of managing Information.
  • Teach these people the new roles and processes within their organization aimed at managing this crucial information.
  • Identify Critical success factors for ensuring that Information management delivers business value.

4 ROUNDS EXPERIENCE

During 4 intensive rounds the team had to manage the information of the BookStore company. The BookStore Business Managers designed new services and the IT Department needed to make sure that the Infrastructure, the Applications and the Information were available on the right moment of time so the Business could achieve their objectives.

After each round we reflected on what had occurred and we captured Lessons Learned to be implemented in the next Round. Step by step BookStore became more and more successful. The new roles and processes were clarified and created value for the whole organization. IT became more organized and new roles like The Information Manager, Information Analyst and the Customer Support and Functional Management, were implemented. At the end of the day we then reflected on what was learnt, in the context of their organization and the improvements they needed to take away and apply.

CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS

The Business managers also wanted insight into Critical Success Factors for making Information management a reality, something that adds business value.

The Question we asked: “What are the critical success and fail factors for effectively adopting and deploying Information management as a strategic instrument and as a bridge builder between business and IT?”

  • You need formalized roles and processes, procedures to ensure that the alignment takes place and is sustainable.

“During this simulation the first 10 minutes everyone was staring at each otehr waiting for the other to take the initiative, we recognize this in reality.”

  • Business and It needs to be aligned so the impact and consequences of Business decisions can be translated to effective IT solutions and Service to assure time-to-market.

“Many of the Applications were ready………. But not on time, IT didn’t realize the strategic consequences. It also shows us that when we want agile and fast deployment of solutions if we don’t focus on how it will be managed and supported we face additional costs and risks.”

  • Make sure it is clear what Functional management does and what the Help desk does.

“Many solutions were thrown over the wall. No training for Helpdesk, no transfer of Knowledge from Application Management and Technical Management.”

  • Application Management and Technical Management need to work more tactically, understanding what is in the pipeline and planning the changes rather than operational support activities.

“In the Simulation the Key User was really frustrated because the helpdesk was so busy getting the Knowledge from the Application Manager and Technical Manager. But they got frustrated because they were involved in all kinds of operational discussions…”

  • The IT manager needs to be able to act more on the strategic alignment than at the operational level. Make internal processes effective so that the IT manager can focus on the strategic issues.

“By the end of each reporting period, we would expect from the IT Manager a clear picture of the IT plans, strategy realization and Costs, but… you’re right.”

  • Need insight into bottlenecks in end-to-end process. Should be the responsibility of the Information manager.

“This was a major question throughout the day. Who is responsible for organizing Information management?, for ensuring the information needs are translated into IT solutions and successfully deployed and used, and that strategic goals are being realized.”

  • Need for effective meetings structure, right roles involved, right information to enable decsion making and effective decision making mechanisms and structures. “During the simulation we saw a lot of people walking around, influencing roles, getting jobs done without any structure. Later we saw some kind of Change meeting. We recognized some of these issues we face on a daily basis.”
  • When the Business & IT Alignment isn’t formalized and seen as working, it fosters a ‘them’and ‘us’ culture of finger pointing and blame.

During the simulation IT got the blame when the Information was not available on time, and IT blamed the Business because they did tell them they need to have this information on the screen, we recognize these frustrations from reality. We gained a better understanding of the frustrations of IT having to play their role, and realize we as a business need to be more involved and provide more guidance.” 

  • Business needs to be involved in requirements specification and testing to make sure the IT solutions are aligned with the Business Processes and the goals to be achieved.”Most of the Application and Information sources were implemented without acceptance of the business users. As a result not all Business functionality and opereations was realized. We had many screens without the right data or functionality, but…….the application was 100% available!”

  • IT needs to have insight into the Business strategy and what is coming in the pipeline. “In the first round (remember, these are all business people), The Bookstore IT team were all leaning back, waiting for the Bookstore business to share the Business strategy.” one of the Bookstore It people said “This is really frustrating, not getting the important information from the business….actually this is exactly how we as a business behave. ” 

Business and IT leaders must work together to realize these Critical success Factors. Especially when you consider the top 5 business and IT trends for 2011.

Some feedback from the audience about this way of creating awareness with a Business Simulation:

  • This really helped model and test real scenarios. What does a key user do when they have a problem and want changes to functionality?
  • This shows what happens when IT isn’t involved earlier in the strategy process.
  • Our IT organization is adopting Process frameworks, this shows it isn’t about farmeworks but about agreements and aligning behavior and communication.
  • The simulation can be used when we have defined our roles and processes to test them and communicate them.
  • Great way to teach the employees what we want to ‘see’ in our company, in terms of desirable behavior and processes and responsibilities that are  aligned, end-to-end.
  • Our IT organization is adopting Process frameworks, this shows it isn’t about farmeworks but about agreements and aligning behavior and communication.

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