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Is the value of your IT services acknowledged?

It starts with a brief morning meeting between two managers of a large service company. One comes from the administration, while his colleague is responsible for implementing technology (IT) projects for the organization.

– Administration Manager: ” I feel like my requests are rarely supported. I wait forever to get my approvals, and different systems do not seem to communicate.”

– Fellow IT replies: ” Yet everything seems to be going well. We respect our level agreements (SLAs) and do our best to answer your queries as quickly as possible … ” he says discouragingly.

– Admin Manager: ” I believe you, but I do not know the nature of these agreements. I wonder if your staff is aware of the requirements of our business or the human resources department. Did you know that the payroll department must receive the same notifications as my team? “

– TI Colleague: “As a matter of fact, not at all. We are not that well informed about your needs and your business goals. “

– Admin Manager: ” Again, I have no doubt about your goodwill, but it is time to converge our goals; what do you say about getting together? “

This discussion is a typical one. IT departments have always had to challenge negative perceptions and demonstrate their value to other business units. This statement is even more true in a slow-motion economic context, where cuts and cost management are among key organizational priorities. The services offered by the IT sector are often devalued, although they are essential support to internal performance, not to mention its contribution to services for external customers. So how to break these perceptions and better justify IT projects internally? 

“You’re a Cost Center” 

“You’re a cost center,” retorted jokingly financial director, who intercepted a part of the conversation by arguing the relevance of the IT project introduction of a BYOD policy (Bring your own device).

This manager has indeed a good point. Technology is a major cost for business. However, the IT department is not just an expense. This lack of IT services' perceived value lies in both the financial burden and the inviolability of deliverables served by teams from information technology. To optimize justification for the development of IT projects, here are 3 lines of thought on the subject.

1. Objective: Alignment

” It is an unrealistic cliché to talk about IT-Business alignment in 2014! ” added another colleague from the same corridor. ” we have been talking about it for a long time, but nothing changes in practice. ” In fact, for many years, the IT industry and most of business communities understood the issue but didn’t seem to be able to apply it. However, we note several actions attempted to meet this need (continuous improvement program, demand management, enhanced knowledge management system), but computer resource misuse remains. According to a large consulting firm, between 10 and 20% of the IT budget is misused.

This glorified alignment with business objectives aims to get better communication between the parties. The first step towards aligning business needs and information technologies is building a strong relationship between the partners. We must create an internal communication system that will allow specialists to be consulted and to make appropriate technological solutions choices.

2. Strategic Planning

Another line of thought lies in establishing strategic planning upstream, where the parties mutually work toward the same goals and select better and manage the investments. A top-down vision could be valued to propagate a common vision of senior management to all business units, including IT. The definition of the range of services included in a service catalogue or within a service portfolio could also support future decisions.

In short, this vision must be focused on service and must take into account:

  • Needs / business applications
  • Planned vs. actual requests
  • Cost management
  • Resource management
  • Technological infrastructure
  • Set of efficiency measures

3. Automation and IT Tools

The objective of creating value is not new, but many solutions are now achievable. The automation process have a beneficial effect on the effectiveness of work teams. Integrate automation brings its share of benefits and measurable value around IT projects:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved knowledge management
  • Reducing training needs
  • Increase consistency and verifiability
  • Enhance compliance and regulation

However, do not forget about the IT tools that will allow the delivery of services and their operationalization. The goal is simple: ensure that the infrastructure and the selected software solutions are adapted to respond to business priorities set by management appropriately.

The Real Value of IT Services

IT value can be summarized in three areas: needs, uses and improvement. First, the value of IT is the content of the provision of services (through the verbalization of a service catalogue), adapted according to organizational needs. The value is also represented by delivering these services using various platforms, tools, and software based on best practices. Finally, this value is linked to continuous improvement and updates to processes and services delivered.