Delivery is still the top concern of Execs!

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

I’ve been mixing with some of the top Execs (CIOs, CTOs, Heads of IT) over the last few days at the Forrester IT Forum in Lisbon, Portugal, and I’ve had a number of conversations about the top issues they face.

Not surprisingly, delivery is still the key concern.

What I discovered though is that this issue varies in nature across different organizations, but I’d say that it falls in two main categories:

  1. Efficient organization: I found that for several CIOs, they still faced challenges in building an organization capable of efficient, scalable and repeatable delivery. The nub of it is that IT performance is linear which means that economies of scale aren’t met and they perceive a lack of improvement through collaboration. Many of them are still working on embedding the principles of ITIL into their function, but they often face issues of buy-in by the CEO from the top and IT professionals from below. The good news though is that ITIL has matured to a degree where there is a lot of support from the industry, in terms of training and accessible knowledge. All the CIOs I talked to had initiatives in play to push ITIL further into their organization
  2. Business relationships: The other category I found concerns the relationship between IT and the business. I sensed a growing sense of frustration in IT leaders that the relationship with their customers wasn’t quite right. The big ticket item concerned effectiveness – mostly the conflict between delivering cost-effective and robust core infrastructure against being flexible and adaptive to business change. It seemed that their is always more work demanded by the business than that can be supplied by IT. I heard from a few IT Ops managers that the expectation places upon them was constantly changing and often not expressed very well (see my article on Non-Functional Requirements.) It just seemed that there remains a communication and expectation gap – underpinned by a gap in perceived value of IT. Check out this article on CIO.COM, which discusses again the divide between IT represented by the CIO and the business represented by the CEO (the article suggests five ways a CIO might improve this position)

In both cases, the crux of the issue involves organization, as too many resources are really being spent of delivery and not on the management of relationships relating to delivery. Delivery requires stability and management of tasks. Organizational change causes disruption and destabilizes delivery. It’s foolish now to put these drivers into just one lap. This view may seem counter-intuitive, but my point is that IT organizations are not standing back and dedicating resources to building strong, collaborative, partnership-based relationships with the business, or applying resources to the management of service towers, in order to support business change whilst supporting stabilized delivery.

Most CIOs I talked to are initiating changes to their organizational structure in recognition of this. These changes vary between organizations but they’re generally geared towards avoiding conflicts of interest and creating more internal supply and demand relationships vertically up the IT estate as well as horizontally across service integration. Engineering these structures should allow IT leaders to ensure that their workforce can focus more clarified objectives and boost industrialization.

What could this mean to you? It may mean that in the coming months, there could be a restructure on the cards if your organization is behind the times. If you’re an early adopter of this model, then it could mean there will be a second wave of change. If you’re in a technical role then my suggestion is to begin looking at how demand is placed on your team and by who, and what conflicts you face in your daily routine between delivery and service improvement. I don’t think that in the near future, both of these will be off your own bat. So maybe you’ll need to choose what is important to you – stability, or change.

This is a growing trend, considering other research I’ve conducted. ITIL has come to maturity and any organization who hasn’t adopted yet is a dying breed. Business Relationship Management, too, is prevalent. IT leaders are coming under more pressure to deliver scalable and repeatable services quicker, and the key to this, as recognized by every CIO I talked to, is in the organization.

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