Archive for the ‘Policies’ Category

Critical Thinking and IT   Leave a comment

Having been involved in IT for quite a number of years I have been personally across an extensive list of faults, projects and to-do lists. Where the faults have ranged all the way from printing problems on a PC to Active Directory synchronization errors across multiple global domains. Where the projects have included things like office relocations, SAN upgrades and WiFi rollouts. And where to-do lists (IT strategies) have revolved around understanding the needs of multiple stakeholders, the timing of investment decisions and the availability of resources.

And one of the critical abilities that is common to all of these is the ability to think critically.

Not in the sense of being critical about others, but the process of thought and reasoning.

I’ve seen fellow IT professionals simply content to hit refresh buttons and just go for the software re-install.

I’ve seen projects fall over because some first and second order impacts weren’t considered.

And I’ve seen action items added to strategies for no other reason than it just felt right to the sponsor.

Sigh!

So, while the following list can apply to other areas of endeavor that requires fault analysis, project management or strategic approaches, all of these aspects of critical thinking do apply to the full gamut of activities associated with information technology.

Eight principles of critical thinking:

  1. define the purpose
  2. what is the question you are wanting to answer
  3. collect information
  4. consider your inferences
  5. check your assumptions
  6. be clear about the concepts in use
  7. what exactly is your perspective
  8. what are the implications

Regarding purpose. What is the objective of that project? What is it that is really trying to be achieved?

Regarding question. How clear are you about the fault you are trying to fix? What are its symptons and underlying causes?

Regarding information. Do you have all the facts and evidence with respect to that fault? How long has it been going on, under what conditions is it triggered, and so on.

Regarding inferences. Looking at that set of strategic objectives, what interpretations and conclusions can you draw out from that body of proposed work?

Regarding assumptions. What beliefs and biases do you hold, and what beliefs and biases do you believe that others hold?

Regarding assumptions. With respect to that project, what are you taking for granted? With respect to that strategy, what are you assuming about the business?

Regarding concepts. What exactly is that idea you have about the cause of that fault? What is the theory you have about the use of that particular technology for that project?

Regarding perspective. Can you step back and see your point of view dispassionately? In the project management discussions, is your point of view valid?

Regarding implications. When you take that step to fix up the fault, what will happen? What is likely to occur as you execute that strategy?

The ability to think critically is increasingly important. Do you take the time and effort to apply any or all of these eight aspects of thought and reasoning to the tasks at hand?

 
For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

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IT Expenditure – The Cost Centre Focus   Leave a comment

For the majority of organisations, information technology is seen as a cost centre. Its seen solely through the lens of operational efficiency.

And so when viewed this way, the costs of running IT become important. How effective is the technology that is used, how efficient is it being used, and are there costs that can be pulled out?

For example, what are the licensing costs of the Microsoft suite of operating systems and applications? What of the annual subscription/renewal payments for the various line-of-business applications that are used? And are you up to date with the inventory of hardware and their annual warranty renewals?

And flowing from this, are all of these pieces of hardware and software up to date? Are they all necessary? Could things be done better?

A crucial piece of information that I have found that is often missing – what are the projections for growth? How much more bandwidth will you need over the next couple of years? Do you have much historical data on the usage of storage?

And then there is the staffing aspect.

Have you got the right skills in to do the job? Do you have enough people to do what is being asked? What is the workload like? Is the management structure in place fit for use?

And rather than ROI (return on investment), the financial approach for measuring should start with a conversation about TCO (total cost of ownership). For TCO is about operational effectiveness, its about measuring the financial impact of information technology expenditure.

So, it is a given that today’s organisations (for profit & not for profit) need information technology, and they need it to be running well. Yes costs need to be kept down, but IT is a cost of doing business. And like with any other business cost, the expenditure needs to be “business sensible”. When viewed through the cost centre lens, the information systems that are in place need to support the business aims. These systems need to not get in the way of effective business operations.

Thus, the technology supporting the creation, development and management and your organisation’s information does need to be effective and efficient.
For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

Posted September 15, 2014 by terop in Business Strategy, ICT Strategy, Policies

More mobility coming?   Leave a comment

Given that global tablet sales will be larger than PC sales next year, what are considerations should be weighed.

What are the trends already underway? What is likely to happen?

From an internal corporate perspective, among other areas there are impacts upon information security policies and systems supporting those policies.

From a customer interaction perspective, perhaps a greater emphasis upon customer experience with different computing device form factors.

From an IT perspective, there may well be a greater shift to services based in a public cloud.

And with this increasing trend to mobility, perhaps the most pervasive is the desire of all to have information available fast. For movement implies flow, which is not a cousin of patience and waiting.

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, see my organisational strategy blog Strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Are you getting the best from your IT?   Leave a comment

A recent report on how well IT is being used in business was an eye opener.

This report showed that only 1 in 5 businesses with less than 25 employees thought that having an IT strategy was good for their business, whilst this proportion rose to 1 in 3 for larger organisations.

What does that mean? The implications are that there is little direction regarding IT’s:

  • governance
  • measurement
  • organisational structure
  • processes
  • service portfolio
  • sourcing

The consequence of this is that IT is largely reactionary, it’s plans are not in synch with the host organisation. That the returns from any investment in IT are not being fully realised. That even security may be threatened, or opportunities may be missed.

So, where to from here. Well, two things. First a check list and then some action.

The check list:

  • governance: do you have policies in place for computer usage, security and business continuity?
  • measurement: how easy is it to get reports of internet usage, data capacity and fault resolution times?
  • organisational structure: have you got the right people doing the right jobs for the right reasons?
  • processes: are things going smoothly, are internal systems right for the job?
  • service portfolio: what services do IT provide and are these the right ones?
  • sourcing: should you insource or completely outsource, are you getting value for money from your current provider(s)?

And the action:

  • decide on the suite of business objectives
  • review your current set of processes, applications, data and technology
  • create a new, or upgraded set of processes, applications, data and technology to suit your business objectives
  • and finally, bring about the change

 

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, see my organisational strategy blog Strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Posted July 4, 2014 by terop in Architecture, ICT Strategy, Policies

Books Read: “The Technology Management Handbook”, Dorf.   Leave a comment

In short, this is a major piece of work. It runs to around a thousand pages. It is quite comprehensive as it comprises essays by authors from a range of specialties.

The Sections are:
– The Technology Manager & The Modern Context
– Knowledge for The Technology Manager
– Tools for The Technology Manager
– Managing The Business Function
– Strategy of The Firm
– Core Relationships for The Technology Manager
– Global Business Management

What is of interest to me is the HR aspect of work. That is, the motivations we have and the design of our jobs.

The questions that must be asked concerning the motivation of technical professionals are:
– what energizes particular behaviours
– what directs or channels these behaviours
– how the behaviours are sustained/altered

Two things of note:
– we must create the kinds of job assignments, careers & work-related conditions that allow professionals to satisfy their individual needs
– the organization designer’s job is to select the least-managerially demanding organization that best fits the “design criteria” appropriate to the situation & strategy

Now, the theories behind all this are:
– cognitive models of motivation:
  – Maslow’s hierachy
  – Herzberg’s 2 factor
  – McClelland’s Theory of Needs
– motivation through design of work
  – equity theory
  – expectancy theory
– Hackman & Oldman suggest 3 task dimensions:
  – skill variety
  – task identity
  – task significance (important)
  – also: autonomy, feedback (weak in IT)
– socio-technical model of job design means that team covers breadth/depth/height of the work rather than individuals:
  – depth of expertise
  – breadth of functional tasks
  – height of leadership activities
– importantly in all of this, the trust & confidence in manager is crucial

This tome certainly covers the full gamut of technology management issues. Issues such as:
– economics & finance
– marketing
– decision and simulation methods
– and so on.

In all quite comprehensive. For me, its almost a must to have as a ready reference

EMC SourceOne Email Management Policies   Leave a comment

Recently had a good day with the EMC SourceOne technical guru. Now recommending the archiving, stubbing, and deletion policies. Also designing the architecture and how it will sit within our VMWare farm (vSphere) and EMC SAN (CX4-120).

Posted February 15, 2011 by terop in EMC, Policies, SourceOne