The 6 business principles for success in IT

  • Posted on April 5, 2016

ITThis guest blog post was authored by Tony Irving, COO, CloudTalent, an Avanade company.  

I’ve been working in IT for over 30 years. I’ve helped organisations of all sizes solve all sorts of IT issues. I’ve learnt a lot of things along the way – what works, what to avoid and what you really need to make IT a success. What I’ve found is that the latest tech in itself is not enough. My experience has shown me that the following six, non-technical principles are the foundations to successful IT.

  1. Simplicity - Why, as technologists, do we always complicate things? Keep it simple for the audience – those in IT and the business. Forget about the bells and whistles, what are the basic needs? Build for the basics first and get smarter later when things are bedded in and settled. Establish the business value and then build on that if it exists.
  1. Alignment - If you don’t have a clear understanding of the business strategy and goals, and an agenda which is fully aligned and supporting them, you can’t possibly be successful. Regular communication with business stakeholders to ensure alignment and satisfaction is key.
  1. Communication - Talk to the business in a language they understand, not technobabble; you won’t impress them and you certainly won’t gain any allies. Explain it to them in jargon-free English, so that they know what they are getting (and not), when they will get it (all, not just some of it), and what it will cost – plus what the likely risks and issues may be. Transparency is crucial. Clear communication with peers and subordinates is imperative too; when communicating to your own team, it is important to describe the why as well as the what. Too often people are running projects and performing activities without being clear what the benefit is to the business or end customer.
  1. Knowledge (especially financial) - Many IT managers who have come up through the ranks are great technologists, developers or operational managers, but few have ever had any formal or informal financial training. Yet they end up running budgets often worth millions or even tens of millions of pounds. Understanding the fundamentals of finance is essential to being a successful IT manager.
  1. Process & change - Technology problems are not always caused by the technology itself. It can be about the supporting processes and how things have been built or are being run, as opposed to the technology itself being flawed or problematic. And there are few organisations that don’t find the majority of their incidents are unwittingly caused by changes they have made themselves. How many times do the same incidents reoccur? Do you have effective change management that can get to the root cause?
  1. People - Some problems are also down to a lack of skills or lack of bandwidth. You need the right people and enough of them. And remember, people are not like systems – you don’t pick up a manual to learn about Jane Doe; everyone is different. Try to understand them and why they are different, respect the differences, tolerate the differences – and they may tolerate you! Getting the best out of your people can be much harder than getting the best out of technology.

If you’d like to chat more about how my colleagues and I could help to make your IT a success, please get in touch.

Tony joined CloudTalent as a Programme & Client Executive in March 2013, assigned to one of the largest transformation projects in the company’s history. Prior to that, he had spent most of his career in investment banking technology functions, culminating in a CTO-level role at Thomson Reuters as Global Head of Technology Operations, managing 2,500 staff and a budget of $750m per annum.

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