Taking the high road, I can see clearly now

The now famous quote by First Lady Michelle Obama “When they go low, we go high” resonated with many of us who have lived our lives making the purposeful choice to take the high road.  Since the election, taking the high road has been bumpy for most of us. My reaction to the election results was not good. I repeatedly caught myself starting down the low road over that last few days.    What does it mean to take the “high road”?   The most common meaning is “doing the right thing even it is not popular or easy.”   To me, it means maintaining my dignity, my credibility and perhaps my sanity in times of stress.   I accept that I cannot stay on the high road all of the time, I am only human. Nevetheless, it is the place where I feel better about myself and the world around me is most clear. If taking the “high road” means maintaining my dignity and credibility, what does the “low road” signify?  Simply to take revenge, to feel the ultimate need to right a wrong.  Revenge is a dangerous emotion.  It puts one at risk of losing focus under the guise of righteousness. Without focus, one cannot see the impact of actions clearly. A quest for vengeance can lead to inflicting harm that was not intended.  Statements made in anger create irreversible damage to relationships. The challenge with revenge and vengeance is that it puts you at risk of behaving at the same level of those who wronged you.  In the case of the election, I voted against what I saw and still see as wrongs against humanity - racism, prejudice, misogyny, xenophobia. These are words I had never heard in a sentence before the election.  Words of hate filled our news reports and social media posts.  The outcome of the election plummeted into a state of grief deeper than I ever could imagine.    It was not just that my candidate lost the election. It felt like evil won. I could not imagine how anyone I cared about would support the hateful language that came out of the mouth of the President elect. I was embarrassed for our country. The phone calls from my many overseas collegues expressing their dismay fueled my grief.  The news reports of hate crimes, abuse to people of color and children only served to drive me to deeper despair. Friends and family members now felt validated and open to voicing racist views that I would never have imagined.  For all of the hate I feared from the opposing candidate's radical supporters; I was now seeing it close to home. The election polarized us as a nation; the post election results divided us a family.    For the first time in my adult life, I felt true fear.  The fear was not for me but the lives of my children, my grandchildren, and my friends.  The fear itself frightened me to the depths of my soul.  Feeling helpless is not a natural state for me.  I spent four sleepless nights searching for the way back. As I searched in my heart and mind for the answer, my instincts told me that I must find my way to the high road.  It is where I see more clearly.  I just had to figure out how.    An unlikely event helped me there today. While making cookies with my five year old granddaughter tonight she excitedly proclaimed- “Gramma. Gramma let me tell you something I learned in school.”  She proceeded to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in her darling little voice. I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. With tears in my eyes, I knew she had given me a gift and route back to my high road. Moreover, that is the belief in the foundation of what this country was founded on and has stood for over 240 years- liberty and justice for all.  We have had a rocky road of it over those years, but we have always been moving forward.  There are those that fear true liberty and hide behind their version of justice limited to people that look like them. We cannot change them; we can only keep true to ourselves. We cannot forget that we are one nation. We cannot allow us to become divided.  Wallowing in our anger or our grief will not solve our concerns. I choose to take the high road.  I choose to fight against injustice with dignity. I choose to stand up and speak out against prejudice as I have all of my life.  I choose to continue to support women with the long term intent of making the world a better place for their daughters and granchildren not yet born.  I choose to refuse to take part in dividing this country further. That is my high road. I can see clearer now.  I hope you find yours.  

The now famous quote by First Lady Michelle Obama “When they go low, we go high” resonated with many of us who have lived our lives making the purposeful choice to take the high road.  Since the election, taking the high road has been bumpy for most of us. My reaction to the election results was not good. I repeatedly caught myself starting down the low road over that last few days.   

What does it mean to take the “high road”?   The most common meaning is “doing the right thing even it is not popular or easy.”   To me, it means maintaining my dignity, my credibility and perhaps my sanity in times of stress.   I accept that I cannot stay on the high road all of the time, I am only human. Nevetheless, it is the place where I feel better about myself and the world around me is most clear.

If taking the “high road” means maintaining my dignity and credibility, what does the “low road” signify?  Simply to take revenge, to feel the ultimate need to right a wrong.  Revenge is a dangerous emotion.  It puts one at risk of losing focus under the guise of righteousness. Without focus, one cannot see the impact of actions clearly. A quest for vengeance can lead to inflicting harm that was not intended.  Statements made in anger create irreversible damage to relationships.

The challenge with revenge and vengeance is that it puts you at risk of behaving at the same level of those who wronged you.  In the case of the election, I voted against what I saw and still see as wrongs against humanity - racism, prejudice, misogyny, xenophobia. These are words I had never heard in a sentence before the election.  Words of hate filled our news reports and social media posts.  The outcome of the election plummeted into a state of grief deeper than I ever could imagine.   

It was not just that my candidate lost the election. It felt like evil won. I could not imagine how anyone I cared about would support the hateful language that came out of the mouth of the President elect. I was embarrassed for our country. The phone calls from my many overseas collegues expressing their dismay fueled my grief.  The news reports of hate crimes, abuse to people of color and children only served to drive me to deeper despair. Friends and family members now felt validated and open to voicing racist views that I would never have imagined.  For all of the hate I feared from the opposing candidate's radical supporters; I was now seeing it close to home. The election polarized us as a nation; the post election results divided us a family.   

For the first time in my adult life, I felt true fear.  The fear was not for me but the lives of my children, my grandchildren, and my friends.  The fear itself frightened me to the depths of my soul.  Feeling helpless is not a natural state for me.  I spent four sleepless nights searching for the way back.

As I searched in my heart and mind for the answer, my instincts told me that I must find my way to the high road.  It is where I see more clearly.  I just had to figure out how.   

An unlikely event helped me there today. While making cookies with my five year old granddaughter tonight she excitedly proclaimed- “Gramma. Gramma let me tell you something I learned in school.”  She proceeded to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in her darling little voice.

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

With tears in my eyes, I knew she had given me a gift and route back to my high road. Moreover, that is the belief in the foundation of what this country was founded on and has stood for over 240 years- liberty and justice for all.  We have had a rocky road of it over those years, but we have always been moving forward.  There are those that fear true liberty and hide behind their version of justice limited to people that look like them. We cannot change them; we can only keep true to ourselves. We cannot forget that we are one nation. We cannot allow us to become divided.  Wallowing in our anger or our grief will not solve our concerns.

I choose to take the high road.  I choose to fight against injustice with dignity. I choose to stand up and speak out against prejudice as I have all of my life.  I choose to continue to support women with the long term intent of making the world a better place for their daughters and granchildren not yet born.  I choose to refuse to take part in dividing this country further.

That is my high road. I can see clearer now.  I hope you find yours.

 

IT PEOPLE - Doing too much with too little

We’ve all heard the over used phrase “Do more with less.” 

The road is only so wide

The road is only so wide

It is a real conundrum.  In an attempt to drive profitability companies laid off workers during the recent financial crisis.  In many cases workers assume responsibilities that don’t match their skills.  Those left behind felt the pressure of additional workload without complaint out of gratitude to have a job or fear of losing the one they have.   

At the same time companies are looking to drive productivity and profits through innovation putting more stress on the same pool of workers teetering on burn out.  Burnout is a top driver of stress. Stress breeds sickness.  People come to work when sick out of fear further impacting productivity.  It really is a vicious circle.   It is unsustainable in the long term.  

Information Technology workers are frustrated.  Many times they are required to maintain the production environments while being asked to deliver new technology solutions required to drive business innovation.  They are torn as they really want to do a good job.  In some cases there isn’t enough time in the day. In some cases they don’t have all of the skills needed.   Project invariably fall behind, managers spend more in an attempt to get the projects on track.  The vicious circle continues.

It all comes down to resource and demand management.  Many times we think of these disciplines as one and the same. They are connected but distinct.  Let’s start by discussing demand management. 

Demand management is balancing orders for its products or services with its ability to produce them in terms of resource or scheduling constraints.  Without managing demand, a company might produce too little or too much.  Driving more production than resources can handle most likely will create quality issues resulting in customer dissatisfaction.

Though IT is not a business in the purest sense, it is comprised of resources that produce highly complex products and services. The request for services is generally well understood with project requests in the queue for months if not years ahead.  Yet most of the time as IT leaders we do a fairly poor job of managing supply against demand. I challenge any IT leader reading this to answer a simple question:  “What does your resource utilization look like over the next quarter, much less the next year?” 

We spend a great deal of time and effort on the supply side – the how (project management, software development, asset management) to the detriment of the demand side – the what (capturing and prioritizing demand and having the knowledge needed to assign resources based on business objectives)   We believe our criteria for success is delivering on time, on budget and within specification as many projects that are demanded of us.  We are not held accountable for the delivery of solutions that drive business results. 

Right now many of you are asking – what does this have to resource management?  Or – “Where is Mary going with this?” 

Let’s circle around to resources management. 

Resource management is the effective deployment of resources when and where needed.  In this case let’s focus on human resources.  A service or product requires specific skills sets and the time required from people to maintain them.  We can expand the boundaries of time required using productivity tools but these tools most often will increase the skills required to operate the tools.  These productivity tools do not take away the physical capacity or increase hours available in a day. It is the primary responsibility of the IT manager to understand the capacity and capability of the resources balanced against the demand for their skills and time.   

The Project Management Institute (PMI) through the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) supplies a formula for demand management that requires data outlining the demand for resources, a forecast by time period into the future, and requirement for skills mapped against the supply of resources availability  - again forecasted by time.  Rarely have I seen these tools or techniques applied to the demand for resources needed to support and deliver IT as a whole.

Instead I see IT managers without the necessary skills and techniques needed to manage resource utilization against demand resulting in overworked and stressed team members. Overworked and stressed team members will only guarantee dissatisfied customers and less than optimal results.   You will see an exodus of your best employees.  Neither is the outcome we want from doing more with less.

You can count on it.  

So what do you do? 

Develop the courage to implement Governance to assure that the business accepts the cost and outcome of the decisions made.  See our   IT Governance Whitepaper  for a little help here.

Then build, train, and deploy the skills needed to manage resources against demand.   

Until next time, have an effective week!  Next week we will discuss resource management approaches and techniques.  

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management. 

IT PEOPLE - Flexible Staffing Part 2, Contractors are people too

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Hello, welcome to the 3rd conversation on my favorite subject - IT People. 

Our series on IT People touches on topics specific to leading and managing People. 

People working together is what makes work - WORK

Last week we discussed flexible staffing models and touched on co-employment.  As a reminder - “Co-employment is the relationship between two or more employers in which each has actual or potential legal rights and duties with respect to the same employee.” 

Today we will focus on co-employment risk mitigation.  Please review the case studies in last week's discussions if you are unclear of the risks.

The first step in any risk mitigation strategy is simply to identify if there is a risk.  As a self-check, the IRS and many states use the “20-factor” or the “common law” test, a checklist of 20 criteria, to identify the degrees of control a company has over an individual to determine employment status..  If a contractor meets the majority of the criteria in the common law test and the client is found to be the primary employer, the contractor becomes their “common law employee” and the client will bear greater liability for that contractor, thus creating risk. 

Here's a summary of the 20 Factor Test questions:

20 Factors for Determining Worker Status

  • Instructions. Who gives them, and must the worker obey them? A worker who must obey company instructions about how to perform the job is usually determined to be an employee of the company.
  • Training. Who trains the employee? An independent contractor comes to a company fully trained.
  • Integration. How integrated is the employee’s work with the operations of the company? The closer the relationship between the work of the company and the work of the worker, the more likely the worker is an employee.
  • Services Rendered Personally. Does the job need to be performed by a specific worker? If the company demands that services be performed personally by the worker, this shows control by the company over the worker, which makes it more likely that the worker is an employee.
  • Hiring, Supervising, and Paying Assistants. Who hires, supervises, and pays a worker’s assistants? If a company hires, supervises, and pays a worker’s assistants, this also shows company control, making the worker most likely an employee.
  • Continuing Relationship. Does a continuing relationship exist between the worker and the company? A continuing relationship between worker and company tends to show an employer/ employee relationship.
  • Set Hours of Work. Is the worker required to work set hours? Independent contractors have the freedom to plan their own work day.
  • Full-time Work. Is the worker required to work full time? An independent contractor should be free to accept or reject a job offered by the company.
  • Place of Business. Does work need to be done on the premises? An independent contractor should possess his or her own place of business separate from the company.
  • Work Schedule. Does the worker need to follow certain established routines and schedules? An independent contractor will set his or her own work schedule.
  • Reports. Is the worker required to submit reports, and if so, to whom? Employees are often required by employers to turn in reports, a practice that is viewed by the IRS as evidence of control.
  • Method of Payment. Is the employee paid by the hour, week, month, or in a lump sum? Payment to independent contractors should be by the job, rather than by the day or by the hour. Managing Co-Employment Risk When Using a Staffing Agency : Appendix A : Page 11
  • Business/Travel Expenses. Who pays for any travel expenses? An independent contractor should pay for all of his or her own expenses.
  • Furnishing Tools, Equipment, and Materials. Who covers the cost of a worker’s tools, materials, or equipment? If a company covers the cost of a worker’s tools, materials, or equipment, independent contractor status is weakened.
  • Significant Investment. What degree of investment does the worker have in his or her own business? The larger the worker’s investment in his or her own business, the more likely the IRS will accept independent contractor status.
  • Realization of Profit or Loss. Does the worker bear profit or loss responsibility? An independent contractor should be capable of either realizing a profit or suffering a loss.
  • Working for More Than One Company. Does the worker have a diverse client base? Independent contractor status is strengthened when a worker has a diverse and significant client base. However, a worker can perform services for several companies and still be classified as an employee at one or all of them.
  • Making Services Available to the General Public. Does the worker make himself or herself available for other jobs? An independent contractor’s name should be advertised or held out to the general public as being in business for himself or herself.
  • Right to Discharge. Who holds this right, and is there a notice requirement? While an employer may discharge an employee, parties to an independent contractor agreement typically have an obligation to terminate their contract according to a notice requirement.
  • Right to Quit. Can the worker terminate without incurring liability? If a worker can terminate employment with a company at any time without incurring liability, it suggests an employee-at- will relationship. An independent contractor, on the other hand, cannot simply walk away from a contractual relationship with a company.

Engage with your HR team in reviewing the 20 criteria and determine your risks.  If after a joint review you are unable to determine your risks, the IRS is available to help you determine whether a worker is an employee.   To ask for their help you need to file Form SS-8 Determination of Employee Work Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding with the IRS.   http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss8.pdf    

A word of caution here.  In an effort to avoid the risk of co-employment, some companies limit the length of service of a contract worker to a specific period of time is the solution. Some of these policies are based on the belief that such workers are automatically eligible for benefit plan coverage under the company’s plan after a certain period of time.  I discovered in my research that this is not true. 

In fact, assignment limits may even carry some risk of violating ERISA   (http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-erisa.htm)   if the limits or policies are construed as an unlawful effort to prevent workers from reaching the hours needed for plan participation.  In addition, continual staff turnover is inefficient, disruptive, and not a good solution for companies with long-term temporary staffing needs.

Mitigation 

So what is an employer to do?   In researching best practices for mitigating co-employment risks I found this very informative website: 

http://www.corporatecomplianceinsights.com/best-practices-for-mitigating-co-employment-and-independent-contractor-compliance-risks/

Let me share an excerpt from this page relative to avoiding co-employment. 

Best Practices for Avoiding Co-Employment

  • Implement specific policies and procedures for temporary or contract employees. Highlight the types of interactions and conversations that are appropriate to have with your contract employees and those that open up the company to co-employment risks. In addition, provide adequate training to your managers, so these policies can be adequately implemented and followed throughout the organization.
  • Share responsibility with other departments and your staffing vendors. Create a detailed process that delegates which parties are responsible for which tasks. Who is responsible for touching base with the staffing agency regarding contract details? Who trains managers and internal employees on appropriate business relationships with non-employees? Are non-employees aware that employment issues should be directly addressed with their temporary agency? Is there language within your contract with the vendor that states they are the sole employer? Has the non-employee signed a waiver that they are not entitled to or will not seek the benefits of the company?
  • Utilize a single point of contact that is responsible for coordinating efforts throughout the organization. To make sure nothing falls through the cracks, identify someone within the business to monitor processes, supervise any processes where handoffs occur and coordinate with vendors. This is particularly important during the onboarding and offboarding processes. For example, deciding who will facilitate getting the non-employee a security badge, identifying a place for them to sit in the facility, what equipment they will receive, and how those things will be tracked and recovered at the end of the assignment.
  • Consider using a managed service provider. Having a single point of contact for vendor management, processes and procedures will help keep communications clear and provide an additional level of visibility and risk mitigation. A managed service provider can also monitor compliance, quality and vendor performance.

Matt Yoh, Director of Customer Solutions at Yoh.

  Overall, I found this site to be rich source of compliance guidance.

Conclusion

The flexibility offered by contracting employees is a risk worth managing.   There is guidance available to mitigate the risk.  Engage your HR and Sourcing teams to mitigate and manage the risks through policy and management practices.  Test their awareness of the risks and expect that share the burden of mitigation with your vendor partners.    (You will be surprised how many of the vendor account executives are not informed of co-employment issues or risks.)  Don’t forget to provide training to your managers as they are your front line face to the contracted employee.  

Last but not least, create a culture of inclusion and welcoming without tipping into the risk zone.  After all, the contracted resource is more than a flexible labor solution, they are a human being.  Give me a call if you want to discuss techniques for managing teams with members from a mixed source.  

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This will be the last post of 2013 as next week we go into the Holiday week.  We will kick off 2014 with a discussing  discuss demand management and the negative impact on the people when not managed well!   

Until next time, Happy Holiday to you and your family along with a prosperous New Year!   Stay safe in your travels!

 

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management. 

IT PEOPLE - Getting the structure right

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Last week we concluded a seven week series discussing Change Management. Throughout the conversations the overriding theme was PEOPLE.  It is almost silly to state it but without people companies cannot function.  People can compensate for wrong process or wrong technology.  Process or technology cannot compensate for having the wrong people in place. 

Many times we hear “People are our greatest asset.   You will see it stated as a core value or culture statement on some of the most visible companies annual reports and website.  My interpretation of these core values is recognizing the essential importance of people to the success of their business based on a mutual respect and benefit.  It is employees who deliver value to customers, customers bring profits to the business, profit brings growth, growth returns opportunity back to the employees. It is all very circular.  Note, I don’t believe it assumes job stability or entitlement.  The reality of business cycles and circumstances no longer allows for that promise.  

With that we begin a new series discussing matters pertaining to IT People. I will start the conversation sharing the most common organizational structures. Organization structures provide the foundation of how people work and interact with each other, the way work is divided, including how the IT resources interact with the business.  Despite variations of flavors, there really are only three basic structures – centralized, decentralized, federated.   

Let’s get started by providing an over view of the basic structures.  

Centralized Org Structure.jpg

Centralized IT brings all technology decisions, cost and management into one shared service operation. This structure is favored by some CIO’s as there is the perception of the most control.  The promise of a centralized IT organization is reduced costs and risk, as well as increased information visibility and business process consistency across the enterprise.  Unfortunately the benefits are rarely realized.  Successful centralized IT Service Delivery is dependent on IT’s ability to respond to the business units and local operations needs without sacrificing the benefits of centralized control and prioritization.     

DECentralized Org Structure.jpg

Decentralized IT organization is the exact opposite of Centralized. You will most often see this structure in large organizations built through acquisition.  It was most common in the 80’s and 90’s during the height of the merger and acquisitions era.  IT operations are allowed to remain intact under business’ operating as wholly owned subsidiaries.  Basically the only central IT function is financial reporting.  The promise is a faster time to delivery due to decisions remaining locally.  This promise drives expense 40-60% higher due to increased technology, labor costs, and decentralized procurement at the same time inconsistent functionality impacts integration between business units.  There is generally a divisional CIO with a dotted line reporting back to a corporate CIO.   Having sat in this divisional CIO seat I can attest that it is a tough seat to fill.  

Federated Org Structure.jpg

The Federated organization structure is an approach that allows interoperability and information sharing between semi-autonomous decentralized business units through shared information technology architecture.  The intent is to provide the highest level of autonomy in order to manage complexity and costs, while at the same time allowing agility at the local business unit whenever possible.  A Federated model has a small core team that manages technologies to be shared by all of the business units. 

One of the largest issues the CEO has is a frustration with CIOs when IT is not in touch with the business. If all IT resources are pulled into a single shared services group in the name of greater cost, production control and risk management they risk losing connection to the business.  A Federated structure seeks to preserve the strengths of the centralized models (economy of scale) and decentralized (flexibility) models.  It promises centralized cost and control benefits but maintains alignment contact through business-relationship managers, who make sure that business needs are heard and addressed.   

Each organizations unique business needs will determine what IT functions are centralized and what stays within the business unit.  With a federated organization, you centralize those things that everybody would agree makes sense to centralize: infrastructure, networks, databases, common systems such as email, collaboration, financial, payroll, HR, etc.  The things you decentralize are the applications that are directly in support of meeting the business unique objectives. Then there’s a whole bunch of stuff that people could debate whether it makes sense to centralize or decentralize, like help desks and application maintenance.

While the organization structure is in design an important parallel activity is to address the IT Governance process.  With a federated organization you also want a federated governance process. Such a process says that IT decisions — such as what projects are done, what projects aren’t done, how much money is invested in certain projects — those decisions are made jointly by the IT and business unit people. 

There is no right or wrong design nor will one design always be static. Organizations are always evolving.  And these structures are NOT exclusive to IT nor driven by CIO’s decisions alone.   The business organizational structure and practices will provide the first clue as to which IT structure will make the most sense.  I’ve personally witnessed the chaos created when IT leadership attempted to move a high decentralized IT organization to a federated model while trying to avoid the challenge of addressing the overall governance model at the business leadership level.   It just doesn’t work.  

This was just a high level view of the basic structures.  Please feel free to contact me if I left questions in your mind. 

Along with these three basic structures there is a new model budding referred to as “end to end service delivery” coming out of CEB’s research efforts.  I will not go into depth during this discussion as my experience with it is limited to reading.  I encourage you to reach out to CEB for more information if you are interested in learning more the end to end service delivery model

From there we will weave our way through the back alleys of recruiting, sourcing, team building, performance management, and where ever else our interests might take us. I am really hoping this will be more than me talking to you. This is about you.  Not about me.  So please – talk to me!

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management. 

Please contact Mary at mary.patry@iteffectivity.com to discuss conversation topic in greater depth.

CHANGE Leadership - Sustaining

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You must be the change you wish to see in the world. 

Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

This simple quote of 12 words is the foundation of all change management efforts. You as the leader must be the change that you want your team to adopt.  People believe what they see. Words will not enable a team to change, your action will. 

Looking back over our series on change you will see a consistent theme. Change is about people.  Technology and process may enable or support change but that is all. Change starts and ends with changing the mind-set and attitude of the people. 

People will change their mindsets only if they can see that it matters and that they can fundamentally agree with it. They don’t need to be in full agreement but they do need to agree enough to trust giving it a try. The surrounding infrastructures (recognition and reward systems, process improvement or simplification, organization model, etc.) must be in place to support the change.  The people must have the skills and capabilities to do what the change requires.  Last but not least, the people must respect those modeling the change – that would be you. 

Let’s look at each of these areas a little deeper.

The change matters and they believe in it

Studies have shown that if people believe in the overall purpose behind the change, they will be change their behavior to match that purpose.  To feel comfortable with the change they must understand their role.  To be enthusiastic about the change they must understand how their actions impact the outcome of the change.  This requires that you as the leader take the time to build their story in terms that they will trust and believe it.  I say their story as it must be more than how it will affect the organization’s profit margin.  The story is only effective if it portrays their role in making delivering services to the external consumer.  The more you can share how they make a difference the more it matters. This is human nature.  We all want to feel and believe that our actions make a difference.  

The change is rewarded and recognized.

Rewards and conversely punishment systems alone do not sustain change.  Sorry about that. Wouldn’t it be easy if it did!  Reward systems provide value initially. After a relatively short time the employee will lose sight of the reward if the other 3 areas are ignored. Organizational designers have found that reporting structures, management and operational processes, and measurement procedures – setting targets, measuring performance, and granting financial and non-financial rewards – must be consistent the behaviors the people are asked to embrace. 1

Again that is you, the leader.   For example, if the manager is required to spend time coaching an employee through a change, but coaching is not included on their performance management scorecard, they most likely won’t bother.  Reflect back to “be the change you wish to see”.

The right skills are in the right place

Sometimes, many times, a transformational change asks the employee to act different without preparing or teaching them how.  The how might require a change in instruction or practice. The how might require picking up a new responsibility with a new skill.   You might be asking them to customer centric when they don’t know who the customer is or what “centric” means to them.  It is up to you to assure they are prepared.

Change is most effective when an impact assessment with a mitigation plan is performed before the change is announced. This assessment will identify the staff impacted, the change management requirements, training and coaching needed down to the individual team member level.  Change takes time and is best offered in small chunks of learning.  Without the assessment you are entering a maze, without a light,  just feeling your way through it.

There is a strong role model to follow

That is you the leader. People believe what they see.  Role models are not only the individual’s manager but the executive team all of the way to the CEO/President.  In some dramatic transformational changes, the board of directors as well.  During time of change every word you say, every action you take is analyzed and scrutinized for meeting. It can be daunting.   What you do is less important than how you do it.  

If cost containment is a corporate mantra, actions at the senior rank may appear frivolous by the people. Let me give you a simple example. A global organization recognized that it cost structure was well out of line with a company of their size.  An assessment revealed that general administration costs where four times that of their peers.   A policy was quickly put in place to immediately eliminate all non-essential travel, catered lunch and entertainment.  The exception to the rule was the box seats at the local arena.  The employees questioned why this spend would be allowed.    What they did not understand that the box seats was a fixed spend under a multi-year contract.    The executive leaders could have continued to use the box seats for client entertainment. They did not. Instead they used the seats for incentives through raffles and team building exercises.

Behavior is not only modeled at the individual level but by affiliation groups as well. Say that the IT Leader is taking action to simplify process and leading by example the mantra of change.   If groups of long time employees spend their time around the coffee pot complaining that this too shall pass, individuals will not feel the need or pressure to change.

Here is where you come in.  If you can buy in to the concept that a successful change program starts and ends with the people, you should be able to buy into the reliance change has on the story behind the change.  The consistency of the story most permeate from the executive leaders down to every employee.   The messaging cannot be a few posters on the wall or a power point reflecting bullets.  The message must be consistently delivered in the form of a dialogue with built in two way communication. 

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A change leader will recognize the feedback heard and course correct on the fly. It really isn’t as artsy as it sounds, but it does require active listening, questioning in a non-threatening away, and truly demonstrating belief in the change they wish to live.  Change is hard.  Realizing the outcome of change is a beautiful thing. 

This concludes our discussion on change.  As we wrap up I welcome your feedback, questions and comments.   Next week, we will begin a new series discussing staffing and service models, pros, cons and risk and ramifications. 

 Until next time, have a great week!  Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends. 

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management. 

Continue the conversation with Mary at mary.patry@iteffectivity.com or 772-646-0706

Do you ever wonder why you were so lucky?

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Do you ever wonder why and how you have achieved an admirable level of success and satisfaction with your life despite very humble beginnings?

Were the obstacles and challenges of your early years so great that it was unlikely that you would arrive where you are today? Have you wanted to share your life experiences but did not have a platform for doing so? Have you held back from sharing even with close friends out of pride or embarrassment but would still like to share your story anonymously in hopes of inspiring others to realize that if you could pull yourself up so can they?

My dear friend and colleague Martha Hein and I are collaborating on a book project to bring these stories to life so that others may learn and grow from them. We have gathered together half of the participants needed from our own network. You will be touched and amazed at the heartfelt stories waiting to be shared. We are looking for 3-5 additional participants. All stories shared will be protected by a non-disclosure agreement until published. Participants will be allowed to approve the publish copy and may elect to participate anonymously.

Would you like to share the story of your unlikely road to success? If so, please email me at mary.patry@iteffectivity to discuss the potential of your participating.

What is in it for us you might ask - Nothing other than a chance to bring a different perspective of life to the next generation? A perspective of the power of dreams, character and tenacity to bring about the change we wish to create in our own life. Our intent is to compile the stories, lessons learned, and outcome in the form of a published book.

All profits from the sale of the book will be donated to a charity to be voted on by the subject participants. As such we are working to keep costs low. Please contact me if you have interest in contributing skills such as website development, copy writing, graphic design, public relations, book publishing, etc. All offers to help are most appreciated!

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

 

Mary and Martha

CHANGE Leadership - Know your Customer

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Welcome back to our conversation focusing on Change Leadership.  We return to discussing corporate change.  This is the third and last post hearing from my dear friend and colleague Karen Davey-Winter.

In our first conversation with Karen, we learned for leaders of change there are (at least) three dimensions of change that must be understood and navigated – our own approach and reaction to change, how to lead our teams through change, and how to help the people we impact with our changes, i.e. customers, ends users, etc.  This last conversation with Karen will focus on how to help engage customers to make the change more successful.  I hand the “mic” over to Karen:

“If you haven’t yet read ‘Switch’ I highly recommend it, and some of the ideas in this newsletter are loosely based on some of the concepts in the book. Instead of the Elephant, the Rider and the Path, though, I’m going to suggest that we think about changing using the following three dimensions – Information, Emotion and Direction. All three need to be covered to successfully engage a group of stakeholders.

Information

One of the key things that people need to understand before they can engage in a change is the logic behind it, the reasoning, and the analysis of why it’s important. As leaders it’s important to provide the business case, what problem is being fixed but also, and perhaps most importantly, a vision of what the future will look like when the change is complete. As we all know, though, the devil is in the details so it’s really important not only to provide a vision, but also enough clarity about the details of the change to reduce people’s anxiety. So if I’m implementing, for example, a new Lab system in a hospital, I might want to know why this will help the Lab be more efficient, how it will save the hospital money, how that money will be used to improve other areas, and so on. However, while providing the logical information about why a change is important is necessary, on its own it’s not enough.

 Emotion

 The second component of making change successful is based on how to appeal to people from a motivational perspective. This is about making change a matter of identity, not just of consequence. So if I’m a lab tech, and I see a new system being implemented, what kind of Lab technician do I want to be? What would a Lab technician like me do in this situation? If as leaders we can understand how to harness people’s motivation and values, we can make change appeal, and reduce the resistance and anxiety that so often accompanies any kind of change project. If we combine this with finding a way to make change manageable, we’re on our way to improved stakeholder engagement. So now we’ve provided by the logical reason for the change, and we’ve also appealed to people’s motivation. However, on their own these two components are still not enough.

 Direction

The final component of how to engage customers in change is to provide the direction, or the path. The change has to be seen to make life easier otherwise there will be resistance, and so if implementing a new Lab system just makes life more complicated, and the new tools and procedures seem onerous, then the success of the change is in jeopardy. One way to help customers see that the change will make their lives easier is to engage them early in the planning process, have them collaborate to develop the detailed work procedures, set up checklists to track the items, develop diagrams so that they can see the impact. Once they engage in reducing the complexity of the change, they will not only see that it’s not going to be as bad as they expected, but they will also be bought into a process that they helped define.

So for all of you that lead projects that cause your customers to feel that a change is being ‘done to’ them, see if you can frame your engagement activities using the model above.  Also, remember the 20-60-20 rule – 20 people will get on board immediately and not need to be persuaded; 60% will be on the fence until they understand the impact of the change and see how leaders help them through it; 20% will never get on board. If you spend most of your energy engaging that 60%, your chances of a successful change initiative are drastically increased. Let me know how it goes!

Thank you Karen for your perspective.  You can enjoy a more detailed view into Karen’s perspective at these links: 

 Karen Davey-Winter, PMP, ACC  Executive Coach/Management Consultant

www.worklifeperspectives.com

http://www.pmiwdc.org/article/karen-davey-winter/team-building-and-development-matrix-environment

Let’s recap.  Karen addressed three dimensions of change – inform, emotion (resistance) and direction.  Informing the facts and expected impacts are not for the meek.  It is too easy to brush off the impacts with the hope the details will work themselves out.  They won’t.   At the same time it is impossible to analyze and predict all possible impacts.  It is okay to simply say you don’t know, it is okay to say you can’t share or show vulnerability with transparency. It is not okay to pretend you don’t know or simply tell a lie.

Emotion is very personal.  You are not expected to know absolutely for sure how everyone will accept the change.  There are too many variables.  For example, let’s say that the change calls for outsourcing infrastructure management.  From a customer perspective, some will see it as an opportunity to cut costs and improve service.  Some customers will see it as risk based on prior experience. No one will be 100% comfortable. It is our job as leaders to seek and listen to the business’s concerns and address each of them respectful with a mitigation plan for the business impacting risks.  The customer will be more excepting of the change when they have confidence in your ability to manage outcome and be their advocate.

To be informed of a change is one thing, feeling part of the direction is a much stronger emotion.     Engaging the customer in the change goes a long way to reduce or eliminate the “what are they doing to me” emotion.  As you can see none of these dimensions stand alone. 

Until next time, have an effective week!  Next week we will close out our change leadership discussion by focusing on sustaining change.    

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.

Continue the conversation with Mary at mary.patry@iteffectivity.com or 772-646-0706

CHANGE Leadership - Know Thyself

'It is wisdom to know others; It is enlightenment to know one's self. "  Lao-Tzu
(6th century B.C.) The Way of Life

Last week in our conversation on Change Leadership we looked at the change curve and the cycle of emotions one goes through during a major organization.  This week we will switch gears a bit and discuss the role of the leader in change.  We will start with an uncomfortable place for many leaders and that is look at our self first.  We need to examine ourselves closely in a mirror.

In support of this critical conversation I looked at myself and understood the need to seek expertise here. As such my dear friend and trusted colleague Karen Davey-Winter will jump in and share her perspective of Change Leadership starting with knowing yourself.   

“There is so much change in our lives today that it’s hard to be an effective leader unless we have some degree of understanding and awareness of our own reactions to change. If we understand ourselves better, and acknowledge that others might react differently, we have a starting point for enhancing our leadership skills. This results in an increased likelihood that the change has a chance of success.
How many of you know your temperament type? Temperament is a derivation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is one of my favorite tools for enhancing self-awareness. I’m going to use this lens to demonstrate how different our approaches to change can be. If you don’t know your Myers Briggs type, look for the description that sounds most like you, and then read the others and see if it helps explain any resistance you might be coming up against when you’re trying to implement changes!
Idealists (INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, ENFP) – Change, to whom?
For Idealists change is very personal. Their motto is ‘I’m an NF and I’m here to help’ and so when change happens it must support their value system. They need it to be meaningful, and they want to know who will be impacted. They want to help manage the people impact of change, and their focus is the organizational atmosphere.
Rationalists (INTJ, ENTJ, INTP, ENTP) – Change, why?
For Rationalists change gives them an opportunity to use their analytical abilities. Their motto is ‘why?’ and so change must come with an opportunity for task mastery. They need to see the logical reasons for change as well as a strategy and a path forward.  If change seems illogical, unreasonable or unfair they will resist it, although in general Rationalists (and Idealists) are the types that seek our change, embrace it, even if others think that it may not be necessary.
Guardians (ISTJ, ESTJ, ISFJ, ESFJ) - Change, how?
Guardians need to know how the change will take place, the rationale behind it, and the benefits. Their motto is ‘don’t change what isn’t broken’ and change must bring an opportunity to preserve what works well in the current environment. They prefer incremental change, anchored in current realities. A sense of belonging must be generated and/or preserved throughout the change cycle. They want to know what the plan is, and the step by step instructions to get to the goal. 
Artisans (ISTP, ESTP, ISFP, ESFP) Change, what?
Artisans are all about action, and ‘just do it’ was a phrase probably created by an Artisan. Their motto is ‘if all else fails, read the directions!’ and they need to involved in the change right from the start. They need to be where the action is, and they like flexibility to be designed into the change. They want know exactly what the change is and how they can get involved, now! 
As you read the above, consider what resonates most with you most, and what seems most alien. If you can’t imagine a change needing to be about action, you might have the biggest challenges leading artisans; if it didn’t occur to you that some people are more concerned with the people than the bottom line ROI of the change, chances are that you will need to adjust your leadership style to deal with Idealists. Regardless, know thyself is a good foundation from which to lead the changes in your organization!”    - Karen Davey-Winter, PMP, ACCExecutive Coach/Management Consultant,  www.worklifeperspectives.com

Thank you Karen.  I know from my work with you I am an idealist.  I know from my Myers-Briggs work that Idealists tend to come by our best ideas through a combination of intuition and feeling, so we may have difficulty explaining how we reached our conclusions. We may become frustrated, or even insulted, when others fail to share our enthusiasm and instead want an explanation of the reasoning behind our thoughts. We have to work hard to step back and bring others along to our state of mind.  Especially since inspiration is not a conscious process, the Idealists may not have an immediate explanation, even though their reasoning is sound, and so may feel dismissed and undervalued.  I share this intimate perspective to demonstrate the power of understanding yourself. 

Karen shared a very broad perspective of the effect that your personality traits may have on your change leadership style.  As a follow up she agreed to share two additional conversations in the weeks to come:  Change Leadership – know your team, and Change Leadership – know your customer. 

For more information on applying Meyer’s Briggs to Change Management and Team development please contact Karen directly.  I can attest to her skills and capabilities having reaped the rewards of them during a very large transformation program recently.

Until next time, have a great week!

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.   

CHANGE Leadership

Change happens.  Change is all around us.  It happens every day to everyone. 

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Some people are more adapt or comfortable with change, others struggle with it.  Nevertheless it happens.  And it is happening a lot these days, especially in business.  Business climates are demanding disruptive and transformative change to meet the innovation challenges they face.  

Okay, what has that got to do with IT?  

 

IT is often, maybe always, the downstream recipient of business change drivers.  Business drivers push for systems changes IT is asked to produce.  Many time, most times, the changes IT makes on behalf of business drivers and strategy are disruptive to the employees of the organization.  Can you see the cycle?

IT people are people first, technicians later. Changes dictated by the business such as restructuring, acquisitions, reductions in force just plan hurt. That hurt leaves to non-productive behaviors and poor performance.  What some may not realize is that often times IT is informed of these changes before the rest of the organization due to the need to make broad systemic changes to support it.  Many times they have to execute on these changes without the benefit of public forums or discussions.  It leaves them wondering without benefit of asking – how will this change impact me, will I have a job, what about my friends.  .

Planned systems changes are just as disruptive to the business community.  Have you noticed how their love an old system grows (despite years of complaints) when faced with the prospect of it being changed?  The devil you know is always perceived as better than the devil you don’t.  As IT leaders we owe it to the business to manage through these changes.   

It is an interesting challenge from an IT leader perspective. A challenge that needs to managed on multiple fronts.

Change management is a term that is bantered around pretty freely.  Sometimes it is blamed for poor performance – “The project failed because we did not focus on change management.”  Sometimes it is used as an excuse for not supporting a direction “The risk of that process revision is not worth the change management effort.”   (A few of my readers may remember my having made that statement in the past.)

Theories behind change management are quite complex, draw from many disciplines and sciences, and are probably better left to the experts.  I am sure you are all relieved that I am not going to talk psychology and behavioral sciences with you!  

I do want to share my perspective of the underlying impact of change.  Change does not happen in isolation, it impacts the whole organization and the people impacted by it. 

The first step in leading through change is to understand and address how people are impacted.  People impacted by change go through an emotional cycle or curve ranging from shock, to depression, to acceptance and commitment. 

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The change curve model is based on a model originally developed in the mid-1960’s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to illustrate how people deal with grief.  It  is easy to relate to the mode. As I look at the model it brings back the same emotions I experienced during major change or loss. 

As I stated earlier, individuals deal with change differently. Some go through it quickly, other take much longer.  The leadership challenge is to help people through their own change curve by understanding what phase they are in, and what support tools they need to transition and embrace the new change. 

So with that we will start a new series of conversation on change management. As I am not the expert on the science and discipline sides I will reach out to several of my respected friends and colleagues to help us out here.  If I can’t beg or bribe them, I will wing it with my opinion. 

We will start with “Understanding the Change Curve.”   Until next time!

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.  

Continue the conversation with Mary at mary.patry@iteffectivity.com or 772-646-0706

The Human Side of Leadership

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My career in leadership started in 1980 when I was asked to take on the role of  the Lead Technical Support Analyst at a custom manufacturing company in the Midwest.   My entre into Data Processing was by luck and I truly was feeling my way through it. I had only been in “Data Processing” for a little over three years.  My current job was lead Computer Operator. I did not believe I was ready for a promotion.  I was going to school for Computer Science, I was a mother to two very young children, a wife, and I worked nights to reduce the time away from the children. Talk about trying to do it all!   I was the only female in our department and I was most often referred to as the “girl”. We have progressed!    

The technical support role was new to the department.  The responsibilities were mine to create in many ways.  By accident I had formed the concept behind the role by assuming a leadership responsibilities without asking permission.  I took on such responsibilities as creating the job schedule, instituting incident and change management (didn’t even know what to call it back then), asset management, and other ITSM like controls.  We didn’t have processes predefined to pull from. It just made common sense. 

I am getting of track here!   Back to the point.  My job was quite simple looking back. But at the time I was nothing less than scared. I lamented my concerns to a well-seasoned engineer who I often looked to for sage advice and counsel.  His advice to me was this

“Take care of your people and they will take care of you.”   

“Is it really that simple? I said, “How do I do that?”  He said“

"You are not there to be their friend but that doesn’t mean you should not be friendly.  If you show them you care about their well-being, they give back their best. It really is that simple.”

Over the years, his advice remained my mantra and cemented itself as one of my core personal principles. It yearned me the moniker of “Dragon Slayer”.  More important it earned me the mutual respect of trusted team members who became good friends.  I shared my story with those that I thought would understand, and kept it to myself in the presence of the few who I wasn’t sure would get it.

At the same time I never correlated it to anything outside of the office until I’ve read words from Bob Chapman.

I recently caught a tweet this morning sharing a blog written by Bob Chapman. 

http://switchandshift.com/the-human-side-of-leadership

The Human Side of Leadership.  What a fantastic concept!  That tweet led me to discover more about Bob’s as his message resonated loudly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njn-lIEv1LU

Bob Chapman is the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller.  Barry-Wehmiller is a $1.5b global manufacturing company of capital equipment and engineering consulting with about 7,000 employee. Really no big deal. Except for their corporate message is very different.  

http://www1.barry-wehmiller.com   

Their home page message is very unique. Front and center you see a slide show with the following messages:

“We build GREAT people who do EXTRAORDINARY things.”
“Our Leadership commitment begins and end with a focus on the impact we are making on the lives of people”
“Be recognizing and celebrating the goodness in others we let people know they matter.”
“At Barry-Wehmiller continuous improvement is a natural by-product of engaged people.”
“We believe that each of us has the ability to lead and inspire other through our actions.”
“Our challenge is to create great leadership in every dimension of our personal and professional lives – to move beyond ‘management’ to truly human leadership. “

Wow!  Who could not see themselves moving mountains in a culture with these types of messages?

The company message does not talk about profits, results or income.  It talks about leadership, it talks about people, and it talks about appreciation of individual team members and their families.

This direction was set and is continued to led by Bob at Barry-Wehmiller. 

Somewhere in the l990’s Bob had an epiphany.  He came to realize that the value of his company hinged on the people.  He realized that as a leader he was responsible “to provide the care of nurturing employees to be all that they were meant to be?” and that “leadership calls us to be stewards of the special lives entrusted to us every day.” 

I love how he ties the state of world back to leadership.  How we treat employees, how they feel about themselves a results of our treatment has a direct influence to their relationships at home.  How many people have arrived home after a bad day in the office and felt good about the interactions that evening with their spouse, family and even their pet?   He goes on to correlate happiness in the home to the outlook we have in the rest of our lives. It makes sense to me.  

I believe that stewardship of each other is the missing link to the success of our society, in our companies, and our families.  We are not taught caring in school or our textbooks. We are taught the mechanics of the bottom line.  We don’t hear about it in management or leadership training.  We are not taught or told that we have the power to inspire, influence and positively impact employee or even other people in our lives.  We don’t believe we need to take responsibility for the success of our employees.  In fact the reverse is discussed. We are told the employee is the architects of their own career and success.   

Do we believe that as leaders we responsible for our employee engagement.  Do we commit to accountability for shaping the culture of that engagement?   Do we have the power to refocus our energy on becoming a caring leader and society?  What is the real reason we hold back?

Your thoughts?

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management. 

Continue the conversation with Mary at mary.patry@iteffectivity.com or 772-646-0706

IT GOVERNANCE - How are decisions monitored?

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We wrap up our IT Governance conversations today with a discussion on monitoring decisions made. 

Why is it so important to monitor decisions made?  Monitoring plays a key role in by enabling transparency of decision actions, progress, and outcome as well as informs lessons learned for continual improvement of decision making.   

Notice I did not use Governance in that last sentence.  There is a trend towards eliminating Governance from our management vocabulary. There are some people who claim Governance is passé.  Personally I find that these people also don’t feel then need to manage their own career or plan for retirement.  Without it – success is an accident. 

I am the first to admit it overused and misused at time.  At the same time decision are made, thus they need to be managed and monitored.

Okay, now that I got that off of my chest – what is monitoring IT Governance all about…

Think about this - business leaders are accountable for making decisions required to support the corporate objectives.  In pursuit of building the capability required to meet the objectives they are delegated the authority to make and approve design decisions.  Along with the design decisions the business leader is authorized to approve the funding needed to support within their designated delegation of authority.   

Without monitoring the organization would be blinded to the quality of the actions and return of the investments made. It would be akin to building and mortgaging a home without bank approval, without an architected plan, without quality inspections and without a bank appraisal.   Does that resonate? 

In the IT space various techniques have proven useful in monitoring IT decisions made.  More important these practices are fundamental to running IT as a business.

IT Portfolio Management

Portfolio Management ensures that technology projects complement overall business strategy and value. IT utilizes a project prioritization methodology that reflects the enterprise’s strategic goals and monitors changing circumstances throughout the portfolio lifecycle.

The fundamental objective of the IT Portfolio Management process is to determine the optimal mix and sequencing of proposed projects to best achieve the organization's overall goals - typically expressed in terms of hard economic measures, business strategy goals, or technical strategy goals - while honoring constraints imposed by management or external real-world factors (such as disasters, funding, and resources).

Typical attributes of projects being analyzed in a portfolio management process include each project's total expected cost, consumption of scarce resources (human or otherwise) expected timeline and schedule of investment, expected nature, magnitude and timing of benefits to be realized, and relationship or inter-dependencies with other projects in the portfolio.

IT Balanced Scorecard

The IT Balanced Scorecard is a methodology for assessing the state of an IT Department. This could be a conversation on itself. 

The IT balanced scorecard was developed in the early 90’s by Kaplan and Norton as a set of measures that would give management a view into the business.  The Information Systems Audit and Control Association gives a great history and explanation of its value on their site:

http://www.isaca.org/Journal/Past-Issues/2000/Volume-2/Pages/The-IT-Balanced-Scorecard-A-Roadmap-to-Effective-Governance-of-a-Shared-Services-IT-Organization.aspx

Simply put  - it reports on four key perspectives – The customer, internal processes, employee learning and growth, and financials. In my opinion it is one of the most impactful maturing process an IT organization can take to articulate the value IT provides to the organization.

IT Project Management

Project managers (PM) need to report project status weekly on a Red/Yellow/Green scale across multiple categories, including: Delivery, Resources, Budget, Technical, and Overall.  Written updates on costs, key milestones, ongoing issues, and next-step action items are also included.

Project information should be kept up to date on a weekly basis in whatever systems the company deems appropriate.  I am agnostic to what is chosen as long as the process allows the PM to track schedules, actual work performed, budgets, spend, forecasts, issues, risks, and project changes.  Each week, the PM evaluates the information in the tracking system to ensure that it is accurate and provide an assessment of the overall project performance using this suggested rating scale:

  • Green – Project is performing within expected thresholds
  • Yellow – Project is at risk for missing delivery expectations
  • Red – Project will miss delivery expectations

Here I ask you all for your thoughts and recommendations for implementing these or other methodologies for monitoring decisions made. 

While you are thinking about that I want to outline additional policy, processes and organizations that contribute to the success of the IT practice:  

  • The IT Policy is a formal management policy that governs corporate practice with respect to the authority of the Chief Information Officer (CIO).  The policy sets out the principles under which ALL services relating to electronic information and technologies (Information Technology Services, or ‘IT’) are provided in the company.  It should outline the authority and the responsibility of the CIO clearly. This is a key policy needs to be sponsored by the CEO or highest leader of the organization on behalf of the CIO and IT.  It is the policy that all IT, Accounting, Sourcing, and Legal policies should link back to.   The power of this policy is applied to internally and externally hosted systems and should outline the guidance and ramifications of obtaining IT services outside of the central IT decision making process. For example – if a department decides to take advantage of a software-as-a-service offering without engaging IT technically there is nothing IT can do to stop it.  The question one must ask - who is accountable if there is a breach of privacy. Who is the steward and accountable for the contractual and financial liability? Let’s talk if you want to learn more about it.
  • The Information Security Policy establishes mandatory requirements that assure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic information and the systems which store and process that information.
  • The Portfolio Management Process facilitates development of enterprise portfolio prioritization, recommendation and portfolio approvals.  It is designed to ensure timely processing of approvals for all projects and initiatives while ensuring alignment with IT principles and the business strategies and goals of the company.
  • The Project Management Process, which utilizes the IT Project Delivery Methodology (IS PDM) provides ongoing governance of approved projects.
  • Change Management is the process of scheduling, coordinating and monitoring all changes to an information system resource.  Its’ objectives are to assess, prioritize and authorize all changes, and to ensure that changes are made with minimum disruption to the system availability.
  • The Capital Expenditure Request (CER) Process outlines the steps for the procurement of all capital assets and how to get funding.
  • An IT Solution Design and Delivery practice is responsible for the design and delivery of IS systems acquisition, development, deployment, and maintenance activities.  IT develops and delivers a variety of systems and applications ranging from stand-alone systems to server-based systems, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) to custom-developed software.  It also manages external and contractual partnerships for vendor-hosted solutions and managed service agreements.
  • The Architecture Review Board (ARB) is a governing body that provides a technical review and reporting for all IS projects.  Call it anything you want but hopefully you can see the value.
  • Audits and Risk Assessments are integral parts of both corporate and IT governance. The CIO will work with the head of Internal Audit department and the IT leadership to ensure that the benefits of audit and risk assessment activities are maximized and institutionalized.
  • Office of General Council, Finance, and Sourcing and Procurement are integral parts of the IT governance process and will be involved in all major procurement decisions. The focus of sourcing is to leverage the buying power of the company and to leverage assets across the organization while assuring financial and contract obligations are understood and managed.

I've given you a great deal to consider today and across all of the IT Governance conversations. Let me help by adding a simple thought as you contemplate how to best apply all that I have shared.

The role of IT and the potential value IT brings to the company is ever increasing. Competition is driving the need for innovation at the same time shrinking profit margins call demand scrutiny of every dollar invested.  The role of IT governance is critical to both – are we investing in the right systems that will enable the right capability at the right cost?

This ends our series on IT Governance.  Stay tuned to next week’s conversation where I just might surprise you with a less intense conversation. 

Until next time – enjoy life!

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management

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IT GOVERNANCE - How are the decisions managed?

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We’ve been discussing IT Governance over the last few weeks.  We will cover managing decisions today before we wrap up the IT Governance topic next week.  

As we go into the final stretch of this conversation I am going to recap the objectives behind IT Governance to assure it is well understood.  I find planning IT Governance to be the fun part.  It is much harder to execute and monitor it.  A firm foundation of understanding the objective is necessary to adoption of the practice and realizing the true value.

Again - IT Governance is a framework that insures information technology decisions are aligned with the business goals and objectives.  It is very similar to corporate governance goals of ensuring that key decisions are consistent with corporate vision, values, and strategy.  Both are driven by the need for transparency of enterprise risks and the protection of shareholder value.  The overall objective of IT Governance is to understand the issues and the strategic importance if IT, so that the Company can compete now and in the future as well as to assure decisions made support company policy and the right to operate.   Hence IT governance exists within corporations to ensure IT initiatives and the performance of IT meets the following the following corporate objectives:

  • Strategic Alignment – Link IT & Business Goals
  • Value Delivery – Optimize the Cost & Value of IT Services
  • Resource Management – Optimize Resource Investment
  • Risk Management – Understand the Enterprise’s Appetite for Risk
  • Performance Management – Track & Monitor Achievements

Now that I’ve emphasis the WHY IT GOVERNANCE IS IMPORTANT let’s move on to discuss how we manage the decisions.

Simply put there are three general categories of IT Governance decision management mechanisms - the decision making itself; the process assignment; and the communication approaches.  Typical techniques used to manage within these mechanisms include: 

  • Business IT Relationship Managers
  • IT leadership committee composed of the IT executives
  • IT Councils composed of business and IT executives
  • Senior business leadership committees (of which the CIO should be a standing member)
  • Capital approval committee (led by a senior business executive and comprised of senior business leadership including the CIO)
  • Architecture committee

Managing the alignment of the decision to the overall corporate strategy and objectives may utilize the following techniques:

  • Tracking of IT projects and resources consumed
  • Formalized Service level agreements (SLA) or objectives (SLO)
  • Formal project management lifecycle that includes tracking of business value of IT and decisions made
  • Chargeback or cost tracking arrangements

Approaches to communicating may include:

  • Office of CIO or Office of IT Governance
  • Address failures in the process early on
  • Communicate adoption through announcements from Senior Management
  • Create, manage and monitor web-based portals and intranets articulating IT programs and progress

All companies and especially publically held (or for those aspiring to issue an IPO) companies should look to develop a Governance System Framework within IT.  A recommendation for this framework would best be based on the latest CobIT v5 (Control Objectives for IT) governance model with supporting ITIL v3  (IT Infrastructure Library) system management operating practices.  

COBIT 5 is a globally accepted  framework for providing a business view of the governance of IT. Most often SOX audits are based on its controls.  You can learn more about CobIT 5 at:  http://www.isaca.org/COBIT/ 

ITIL is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management.  It provides a cohesive set of best practices drawn from a global community of IT leadership. To learn more about ITIL 3 visit: www.itil-officialsite.com/

Neither of these frameworks were meant to stand alone (at least in my opinion).   CobIT provides the framework of policy, process, procedures and metrics that give direction to ITIL systems management framework for driving IT Operations, I like to think of CobIT as the WHY and the WHAT you must do and ITIL as the HOW you will manage IT.  Perhaps in a future conversation we will discuss these frameworks further.

In addition the TOGAF 9 (The Open Group Architecture Framework) framework provides an industry approach for designing, planning, implementing and governing enterprise information architecture decisions. TOGAG is a high level and holistic approach to design, which is model at four levels: Business, Application, Data and Technology.   It provides a common set of tools and language for developing and managing architecture.  So that I don’t go too far into an area that I am not well versed, let me direct you to a better source of information: www.opengroup.org/togaf/  . 

In my research I found an awesome white paper that describes the supporting relationship between ITIL and TOGAF.

 www.best-management-practice.com/gempdf/ITIL_and_TOGAF_White_Paper_v0_3.pdf

With this we will pause today's IT Governance conversation  with a memory of Steve Jobs

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” 

Think about it!  

We will pick up our conversation next time with "How are these decisions monitored?",  In the meantime, please reach out with clarifying questions or thoughts on the topic to date. 

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management. 

IT GOVERNANCE - What will guide our IT decisions?

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Continuing on with the IT governance discussion, let’s get started by defining principles.

prin·ci·ple ˈprinsəpəl  noun

Plural noun: principles

a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

   

Synonyms: truth, proposition, concept, idea, theory, assumption, fundamental, essential, ground rule

       

With this we can agree that IT guiding principles are a related set of high-level statements about how information technology is to be used in the business. There is a clear trail from the strategy and operating model of the business to the principles that define desirable behavior in the use of IT tools and systems.

Examples of IT principles may include the following:

  • Ensure flexibility in our processes, systems and prioritization in support of evolving demand.
  • Promote technology innovation across all business domains.
  • Information systems guide product quality parameters to enable predictive science.
  • IT services and capabilities are aligned with industry and compliance frameworks
  • Solutions prioritize the use of industry standards, best practice frameworks, and a “buy vs. build” approach with interoperability across the enterprise being paramount.
  • Leverage existing technologies wherever viable and cost effective.
  • Use external partnerships for non-core capabilities.
  • Investment decisions driven by Return on Investment and Total Cost of Ownership analysis and standards.
  • Standard technology/infrastructure, leverage or re-use before acquiring new.
  • Optimize spend, eliminate waste and leverage existing contracts.
  • Protect the business’ license to operate.

IT Governance must align to and be supported by the organizations. IT policies under the authority of the CIO.  The scope of the CIO authority and accountability should be at the business enterprise level, not limited by the IT organization or placement of any IT related activities in any part of the organization.  In other works, the policy should ensure that any and all embedded (aka shadow) information technology and systems activities, are also subject to this governance.

The principles under the IT governance process should be designed to support all information technology and function decisions.   These principles need to be communicated to all staff, end user, and business unit management to ensure that all parties understand the proper role and use of IT across the business.   All other elements of the IT Governance Process flow from these principles.

Going back to IT Governance Framework described in the August 16 conversation - Principles drive IT Architecture that leads to Infrastructure. The infrastructure capability enables applications to be built based on business needs specified by the business process owners.  Finally, IT investments and prioritization must be driven by the IT principles, architecture, infrastructure, and application/service needs. 

Next time we talk about “Who should make these decisions and how these decisions are made?”  

In the meantime reach out if you have questions or comments!

Conversations sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.