PERSPECTIVE: Improvement, The Tricky Part

I rarely meet a business or technology executive who is satisfied with the effectiveness and efficiency of  IT processes and activities.

Common complains are response time, things falling in the cracks, under estimating, incomplete solutions….etc.

Complains usually come with complete despair! we tried multiple processes, best practices….etc but nothing works!

When I speak to IT Managers, the despair comes in a different flavor! they will never understand how IT works! the don’t appreciate our effort, and they don’t give us enough support.

I agree with the later! However, I believe if IT managers do the following, – and I have experienced that my self -. Things will work and IT processes will improve.

First no improvement what so ever should start without having a baseline that states “Where are we now?”. That is important so that improvement is really measured and not based on the gut feeling of business managers and executives!. To be able to define  baseline a measurement framework should be in place to give an insight about the current situation.

Second, in agreement with business, agree on “Where we want to be?”. It’s about what we need to improve. This is really vital for 2 reasons:

  1. Progress and achievement can be easily evaluated based on facts and numbers
  2. Business people, are sometimes, not realistic about IT improvements, they sometimes believe that things should be all improved all of a sudden. This will help manage their expectations about what’s the next target for improvement

Then, a plan is set and the wheel starts rolling. Measurements are again very important to keep measuring against the targets. Frequent communication and reporting is vital to compare the progress against the base line e.g. Average time to resolve any request was 8 days, now we’re at 4 hours.

Goal Achieved? great. Let’s set another goal and keep the wheel rolling.

Finally, IT managers should make sure that business understands the following points,  and get their commitment on are:

  1. Improvement will never stop! it keeps going over an over again
  2. Improvement is iterative, It might not make positive results from the first cycle, many cycle might take place before the ultimate situation is reached – which might not last for more than few months, if not weeks!
  3. A dip in performance will definitely happen after implementing any change, that is natural as staff needs to get acquainted with the new changes, a training might be needed, a new tool might be installed and staff will need time to get used to it…..etc. It is very important to get get stakeholders by in for this period.  This can be easily illustrated using the well-known J curveJ_curve

One final comment, I advise not to start any improvement before having measurement framework in place. IT managers, believe me you’ve to fight for this, else it will fail and you’ll be blamed for that!

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