22 January 2013

Consciously competent

In an animated ASL BiSL Foundation session on 22 Feb we discussed the competences that are needed for business information management (BIM) activities (based on BiSL). Some of my conclusions:

  • The question "which process is most important?" was difficult to answer.
  • Most processes are connected in a chain so all processes should have the same degree of maturity. Therefore if one particular processes is lagging behind, that is the process that deserves the most attention.
  • If you look at processes fro a business perspective and if operational business continuity is your highest priority, then the 'use management' processes are very important, and the 'review and testing' process because that prevents the deployment of low quality functionality into production.
  • On the other hand, if the organization needs agility to survive and is prepared to take some operational risks, then other processes will be more important.
  • In other words, "it depends".
You could sum it up by saying that competences depend to a degree on the activities and processes but also on the characteristics of:
  1. The business (e.g. stable/dynamic, simple/complex)
  2. The business goals (e.g. costs cutting or growth)
  3. The user organisation (e.g. maturity, culture, size, politics)
  4. The information systems (in the broadest sense)
  5. The IT organisation
  6. The relationship between business and IT
  7. The BIM organisation
  8. The content of the work (e.g. small changes or large projects)
In other words, when deciding on the most important competences for a job profile, by all means start with the generic competences such as communication, analysis, judgement, accuracy, organizational awareness, structured way of working, but also take a good look at the other eight factors.

16 January 2013

How to sell BIM to a manager

Some observations made at a pizza session organized by www.functioneel-beheerder.com and hosted by the Port Authority of Rotterdam om 15 January 2013. The topic was how to 'sell' the need for the operational layer of business information management to a manager. About 20 people partipated, many of which fell in the category of 'functional administrator' (Dutch functioneel beheerder), in other words somebody who helps regular business people use information (systems) effectively and efficiently, deals (as an intermediary) with the IT department, and specifies and tests (acceptance) new and changed functionality.

  • Functional administrator's (FA) aren't proactive in selling their services - often too modest, loyal and hard-working, like Boxer, the horse in Animal Farm who works himself to death
  • If you can't find a manager who has a problem, then maybe you're the problem (working in the wrong organization)
  • Which resources (carrots and sticks) are scarce in your organization? Sometimes money doesn't motivate people, so what does?
  • Know your customer - whats his/her business agenda (KPI's) and personal agenda (career, pet projects)? 
  • Don't talk about IT to a business manager but translate the issue into relevant topics such as reputation damage, loss of business, loss of customers, operational costs, non-compliance to regulations
  • Make sure that you know what's happening in the business so that you can advise on business and information - you should be part of the department, not isolated in an ivory tower
  • Talk to the users and business managers (two separate groups), build relationships, win hearts and minds
  • It's not important how you demarcate, classify or position your work - just do something useful (in the eye of the beholder)

07 January 2013

Disruptive IT Paradigms (presentation synopsis)

IT Service Management (ITSM) has traditionally been based on such axiomatic truths as following well-defined processes, having sole ITSM providership  to the business, and being loosely coupled with adjoining IT disciplines like application development. However, increasingly disruptive forces such as the speed of business change, the value of information not only to survive but to succeed, and the commoditization and consumerization of IT are driving a rethink. Thinking is based on distinct concepts or thought patterns, often referred to as paradigms. Examples of dominant ITSM paradigms are incident/problem/change, demand-supply and service level agreements. But are these still relevant? Mark Smalley, the IT Paradigmologist, challenges the effectiveness of these and other traditional paradigms. He will introduce you to some of his own paradigms such as if-then-maybe and reboot-and-replace while also referencing paradigms from respected ITSM pundits. This presentation will provide you with a new vocabulary, if not new concepts, to help you analyse our changing world and prevent you from becoming disrupted.

IT Spring - the Aftermath (presentation synopsis)

In 2011/2012 I wrote and spoke about Occupy IT and IT Spring - the ‘democratization’ of the user community. The relentless consumerization and commoditization of IT gave business people more insight into what IT could do for them and more confidence to challenge bureaucratic and conservative IT Departments. More than ever – and rightly so – the business is now in the IT driving seat. But with great power comes great responsibility and, just as the Arab Spring has left countries challenged with creating a new form of government, the business is struggling with how to govern and manage information and IT. This presentation reflects on this power shift and gives insight into the responsibilities that the democratized business needs to fulfill in order to get the most value out of information and IT.