Updated: Feb 5, 2021
[This is the first of the 26 blog series on the "ABC’s of Modern IT Operations Management Amidst the COVID-19 Era"]
“Fast” is both an adjective and a verb that is commonly attributed to nimbleness, agility, speed, velocity, efficiency, effectiveness, and efficacy. Attributes that are not particularly associated with traditional IT organizations. How often do we hear your users complain that the network, system, helpdesk support, computers, or the applications they typically use are slow? Fast is a relative word. Without a proper metric and benchmark, all these statements are subject to an unending debate, and no empirical results can ever be achieved. That is why SLA (Service Level Agreement) baseline is fundamental to set the basis for what is a “fast” or "slow" IT. But, while SLA is the primary tool that IT must use in managing expectations to avoid any unnecessary stress within the organization, it is not sufficient, as the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this blog, I will walk you through the essential steps you need to take to transform your traditional slow IT into "Flash IT."
Traditional IT follows a strictly defined standard operating procedure in delivering hardware, software, and services; all must start with a well-written business case with executive leadership’s buy-in, coupled with intensive research, planning, budgeting, quoting, provisioning, implementation, fine-tuning, debugging, user acceptance testing, move to support, move to operations, change management, training and documentation. Whew! That’s a mouthful. This traditional method, which many IT organizations still practice, typically results in all-around frustrations and resentments. Oftentimes, upon delivering the solution, the requirements of the business have already changed. Bigger enterprises suffer the worst from this bureaucratic phenomenon.
While organizations and companies need to pursue and advance innovative business endeavors to gain competitive advantage, oftentimes, their IT departments couldn’t cope-up with all the snow-balling technological requirements that they need to process with less budget, fewer people, and now -- less time. You can imagine how many of these initiatives could have led to capstone innovations that could potentially seal your organization’s future core business foundation. The inability to deliver technology projects and services on-time can stagnate and can adversely impact your organization's overall productivity and competitiveness. This is the primordial reason why we need “Fast IT.”
Act fast and deliver fast. Fast IT is the new norm. Leverage strategic speed (i.e. clarity, unity, and agility) is key.
For example, those IT departments who enabled their businesses and organizations to telework without impacting their ability to serve their customers were now heralded as heroes. This COVID-19 global crisis was the fire that set apart the gold from the rock. Enabling solutions such as web-based SaaS (Software as a Service), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, cloud contact center solutions, ubiquitous unified communication systems, and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) are some of the key enabling technologies that came in handy during this turbulent time.
What really is “Fast IT”?
"Fast IT" is a new operating model intended to deliver quick results using agile methodologies. Its goal is to leverage new capabilities to deliver projects and services on-time, on-budget, and according to the stakeholders' specifications aligned with the business priorities and timing.
How is it done, and why is it important?
Like anything in life, first you need to want it! If there’s a will, there’s a way. As business-IT leaders, CIO’s who are not adopting the “Fast IT” mentality may soon find themselves unable to cope-up and drown with the business challenges, then like everything else in the world of IT -- they will soon be defunct.
The 3 Pillars of “Fast IT”
People - declare war against “Slow IT.” Ensure that it resonates to all the corners of your organization (whether physical or virtual) that slow IT is out. As CIO, you need to lead your team towards a paradigm shift and adopt the "Flash IT" mindset. However, if you preach about "Fast IT" and to get anything done in your organization is quite the opposite, you will lose credibility, not just with the business but with your own team. Walk the talk. Start the battle against “slow IT” now. Then retrain, retool, and reprocess your team.
Technology - yes, sometimes you need new tools in your toolbox. The traditional toolsets that you have been using for decades will not cut it. Leverage the cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service), UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service), SDWAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network), RPA (Robotics Process Automation), VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), ubiquitous computing, mobility, and of course — embrace what your business partners have been demanding from you — yes, those IoT and AI project that you have in the back-burner. If you don't have the internal competencies, get yourself some reliable partners who can deliver all these technologies at a snap of your fingers. Really, this is the easiest part.
Processes - the bureaucratic and cumbersome processes to get things done that are hampering your entire service value stream must be revisited, reformed, and streamlined; otherwise, you will frustrate your best and most innovative people and eventually lose them. In the process of losing your best people, you will also be losing the ability to use the right tools for the right tasks. In the end, this becomes a very expensive equation that permeates a vicious cycle.
In summary, you need to start with a “Fast IT” mindset, employ the right technological toolsets, and reform your cumbersome demand management-to-change management processes to cope-up with the dynamic business demands in this novel economy. Only companies who are quick to react, adjust their processes, and take advantage of the available technologies will thrive and not let this global pandemic tragedy go to waste.
[Please watch-out next week’s article on B-usiness and not IT… by Dr. Scott McDonald]