Why Executives Should Own Business Technology Initiatives

Have you considered who owns the IT systems in a corporate organization?

Strategic system decisions are no longer the sole responsibility of the IT Department, which means IT no longer owns the systems that run a company.  So, who owns them?

Decisions concerning IT system selection, system design and configuration, and surrounding work processes must be initiated by the technology executive and the entire executive team.  The initiative should have direct executive sponsorship and ownership, because enterprise IT systems are the competitive edge, the “secret sauce” and the data repository and source from which the most important executive decisions are made.

Selecting a Systembusinessman-silhouette_10947611

System selection begins with analysis of business processes and the full understanding about how a business makes profit.  It’s important to know…

•What are the unique processes that make a business different from its competitors?

•What are the standard, but necessary, key operations that exist in all businesses?

•How do unique and standard processes work together?

Answering these questions is a prerequisite.  Choosing a system that can satisfy the business requirements of the organization is the final step, not the first.

Enterprise system vendors will always help you buy their product and spin the products’ capabilities in a web of flash and entertainment meant to convince that the systems do it all. This is not the way to choose a solution.  Only through a complete understanding of the business processes, data and workflows can organizations select effective technology solutions to create efficiencies and provide for future growth.

Achieve Organization-Wide Acceptance

Do non-IT employees have difficulty accepting technology initiatives and frequently make these statements?

•“Why doesn’t this system do what it’s supposed to do?”

•“I’m an accountant, not a techie.  Why do I need to get involved in the computer system?”

•“Do what?  Learn the system?  I have too much to do.  When it gets installed, I’ll learn it.”

•“Those IT guys never get it right!”

Executive ownership and sponsorship brings creditability to the decision to implement a new technology solution.  Operational managers and employees are more likely to embrace a new solution and to commit to the effort to learn a new system if executive ownership and sponsorship is obvious.

Mitigating Risk Associated with New Technology Initiatives

When it comes to the process of implementing a new enterprise system, how can executives make sure the configuration, implementation, testing and go-live proceed as expected?  After all, most executives are not technically astute and cannot truly evaluate the progress that is being made.

Techies sometimes complicate issues with techno-speak and executives never truly know where a project is on the timeline.  Only through effective project management methodology can executives understand the parameters and milestones of a project and remain confident.  Perhaps, this is why so many organizations partner with an expert technology firm (shameless plug) to consult with and manage the project for them.

Whether you manage the project in-house or partner with a service provider, the most important aspect of project status reporting is the analysis of risks.

Ask yourself…

•What is the risk today?

•What is the risk preventing the next step in the process?

•If this phase of the project is delayed or stopped, what does that do to the final completion of the project?

•If this risk becomes reality, what does it do to the company and the strategy that requires the new system?

Analysis of these parameters can determine whether other business decisions must be modified or delayed.  With regards to the status of the information system completion, executives must consider purchase of equipment, financing, delivery to customers and return to shareholders.

The success of a business is dependent on good management from the executive or executive committee.  The success of a new system or technology initiative is also dependent on the decisions of that leadership.  Without executive ownership and proper analysis of risk, technology projects cannot be successful.

What is the role of executives in system selection, implementation, risk analysis and ongoing support?





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