Many IT departments are good at managing supply-related issues. They know everything about the latest database management release or how licenses should be managed in the most cost-effective manner. Applications and servers are operated with high availability. But often it is more difficult to master the demand management and that is not so strange. To be a complete IT organization, the IT department must be able to act appropriately in many different situations:
This is related to managing standardized needs. It can be anything from handling an order for a new computer, a local office, to a minor change in an application. The mind-set of the IT department is “give us your requirements and we will deliver”.
This is typically an introduction of a new application or a technical tool. The IT department may be slightly out of date and needs to take a step back and question the real need. The IT department’s role is to secure the technology, integration, performance, standards and the selection of suppliers in combination with matching the requirements to get the best value for money. The level of the required effort must be adjusted according to competencies and resources available in the business. All this requires a range of different skill sets, from technology to diplomacy, project management and soft skills.
3. Innovation and digitalization
This concerns being able to adopt new technology which could even fundamentally change the effectiveness and the prerequisites for the business. It is crucial that the IT department takes a step forward in this respect. A wild introduction of cloud solutions and technical gadgets will sooner or later be fatal. To gain the confidence to take the lead, the IT department must be able to combine monitoring the IT development, read the crystal ball what will come and what is mature and not least to keep up to date on best practice in different lines of business, especially within its own industry. When good ideas are due to be tested, it´s all about effective test management, make a decision and proceed with the installation. Bigger changes must be handled as programmes and the programme manager must be able to handle different projects in parallel to manage the changes properly. Most of the projects aren´t IT projects.
We believe most of our readers became overwhelmed somewhere in the second bullet. Those who didn´t surely already have a clear sourcing strategy. Outsourcing of innovation isn´t necessarily a good idea. An IT operation outsourcing partner isn´t an obvious innovation partner. However, long-term cooperation with external companies with the right profile could be a way forward. It feels reassuring having a partner who is at the forefront in understanding new technology, digitalization, management consulting, change management and program management. In addition, if the partner has is a number of consultants who understand the client´s business well, then your chances of success are even better.
For the client´s own organization it is important not to be left behind. New roles such as change managers and program managers need to be established, with an emphasis on business understanding and technical awareness. This is necessary in order to match the external partner, to build own competence and not to make use of expensive, external expertise unless necessary.
Our recommendation is to start freeing up resources and energy to work more with long-term business related issues such as digitalization, innovation etc. This is achieved by securing resources and abilities to manage the daily operational issues while at the same time secure competence for getting a better understanding of the real business issues and their demands.