This is a sponsored article by IT outsourcing company Acora.Those looking to increase net worth must now consider IT as a strategic enabler rather than a business utility, and demonstrate a holistic, mature approach towards IT at all levels across the organisation. Below are the top five ways business leaders can assess the effectiveness of their current IT capabilities to maximise enterprise value.
1. Demonstrate a clear IT strategyA well-defined and executive sponsored IT strategy which aligns investments with business objectives is paramount. Rapid changes in technology and the IT services market mean that projects requiring years of implementation and expecting a long-term ROI inevitably fail, so focus on the next two to three years and define individual initiatives that will take no longer than six months to implement. The strategy should articulate your technical and operational roadmap, and provide high-level anticipated business case statements. Maintain, update and report on progress against the strategy regularly – at least every quarter – and use it as the basis against which tactical projects are assessed.
2. Proactively address risksChanging business expectations and an increasing reliance on IT means that most organisations are seeking guarantees around availability of key business systems. Next-day recovery is no longer acceptable, so invest in disaster recovery provisions that protect customer-facing operations first, and execute regular tests to prepare IT and the rest of the business for a real disaster eventuality. Successful risk management will encompass both infrastructure and operational risk mitigation, and should make use of standardised processes to identify and control risks. Maintain a consolidated risk register and actively review this at executive/senior management level, prioritising mitigation plans.
3. Provide quality business and management informationA good management or business information system will allow aggregation of information from existing systems with minimal intrusive changes to the original data. Trust is a major factor in the success and ultimate value of BI/MI – data must be accurate and relevant, as well as timely and accessible. Timely does not necessarily mean real time, or even same day – unless operational decision making demands such immediacy. And neither does BI always mean complex data warehousing or specialised toolsets – spend time determining what you should measure, and then what you can measure within existing systems, distilling down to the fewest meaningful attributes.
4. StandardisationStrive to achieve a common and standardised platform across all areas of your business – define and publish hardware and software standards, and introduce governance measures to enforce them. Choose industry standard technologies and packaged applications where you can, and bespoke customisation or development only where absolutely required – short term cost savings often being outweighed by long term ownership costs. Implement standards that can be externally verified through relevant quality audits and accreditations, and invest appropriately in tooling to control assets and configuration management.
5. Operational effectiveness and efficiencyWhether you choose to insource or outsource, manage IT like a business – customer-focused, competitive and trusted across the organisation. Introduce and monitor meaningful KPIs that drive improving service levels, and exploit supplier relationships that add structure and scale to the IT department. Consolidate systems and operations, adopt centralised or cloud-based computing for greater cost predictability and reduced operational risk. Lee Ganly, CTO at Acora, leading IT outsourcers for the dynamic mid market sector concludes: “For those businesses already adopting a truly strategic approach towards IT the above recommendations may not come as any surprise. However, it is their ability to demonstrate committed long term investment across all areas of the business that will bring the greatest benefits and ultimately, enterprise value.”
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