Provided you have successfully managed to build a stable and reliable IT platform, sooner or later you have to do more than just keeping the lights on.
The pressure will be unavoidable. Change will be driven either by business decisions or by new technical break-throughs.
However, these two drivers must be handled differently.
When IT is driven by business decisions
When it comes to business-initiated changes, the project should be led and owned by the business.
This type of IT project will always be difficult to manage. Although the requirements are initiated as a result of business functions, it’s the IT team that has to deliver the goods.
A strong governance structure is required for this to work: it should always be clear that a senior non-IT business executive owns the project, and that IT is only providing resources and support.
Without this business ownership, the project will run the risks of not having requirements sufficiently detailed, of business staff not taking part in training and testing, and of a potential loss of interest from the business when faced with conflicting priorities.
In order to manage business-led IT initiatives, we believe that your company should put in place a corporate IT Steering Committee.
This small but important bit of bureaucracy should be responsible for managing the entire portfolio of business-led IT projects.
This makes it easier to manage the risk profile across all projects, to ensure that sufficient business resources are available, and to enable budget control.
The IT Steering Committee should include all the senior business leaders: the CEO, CFO, COO and of course the CIO.
This group should meet regularly to ensure that the IT function continues to be aligned with corporate strategy.