Three Strategic Pillars for Information TechnologyBy José Concepción Arriaga Murcia | Mon, 08/29/2022 - 12:00
Undoubtedly, and given the various accelerated changes in the world of information technology (IT), it is necessary to plan various actions or initiatives to meet the needs of each area of an organization and, in general, of the entire company. Some companies still work in silos without having a general vision of the entire process. When they seek to implement some operational reengineering or optimization, it is best to do it holistically, rather than the blindness of seeing only one tree and losing sight of the entire forest. Having a 360° view will help identify and cover all the various interactions between departments or detect possible impacts on the value chain due to the existence of dependencies between the different participants in every process, from start to finish
From my point of view, the best way to get closer to success with any action plan in relation to strategic change initiatives is to consider the total flows involved, taking into account three critical pillars that will always be present in practically any initiative that the IT department has to carry out. These pillars are: processes, technology and people. This trilogy does not necessarily have a specific order, they are completely inclusive and how they are analyzed could depend on the maturity of each company in relation to each pillar. That will determine the starting point but, in the end, it will be necessary to review each one in order to really have the full picture of the situation that is being validated. To better understand the importance, criticality and the great utility that each pillar represents, here is a little more detail on each one.
Let's start with one of the definitions of process: a set of mutually related activities that, when interacting together, convert the input elements into results; given that any activity has an immersive process to execute and therefore a result. Whether or not said process is duly structured or documented, it is undoubtedly the starting point to identify possible opportunity areas or improvements. The phrase, “Equal Processes, Equal Results,” is really true and applicable when seeking to generate a strategic plan of any kind.
There are processes whose results are as expected and the need to change them is not perceived; however, continuous improvement is inevitable and necessary, and even more so with the current acceleration in terms of the need for variants of care and services among multigenerational clients who have different expectations and increasingly demand a better service. Since there are multiple options, they can change providers whenever they want, impacting the results of the companies, for which it never hurts to periodically review the processes to guarantee that they comply with the expected task, or if it is necessary, to train the personnel that executes the processes so that they are aligned. When reviewing each process, the need for adjustments or even controls to be implemented can be identified, which is very useful for mitigating operational risks.
Some processes can be maintained manually but it is best to try to automate them to generate added value in the operation and thereby offer better services to both internal and external customers. In this sense, technology plays a very important role. Given the new demands of the market and the need to be at the forefront of competitors, and because of the worldwide digital transformation wave, technology is and will be a critical success factor, which must be seen as an investment with a high-cost benefit.
One of the main functions of IT leaders is to avoid technological obsolescence. It must be intelligently analyzed to ensure cutting-edge or first-generation technology, which must be scalable, so that it can be modified by complementing, linking with other applications or systems according to the needs of the company and that can be done in a simple and easy way. The challenge with new IT implementations or releases is to avoid generating impacts on the operational processes of the organizations. You must avoid complicated and risky migrations and guarantee the continuity of the operation and even make processes and services transparent to internal or external customers to ensure the company's image is not harmed.
To connect the two pillars explained above, it is clear and understandable that both processes and systems are operated by people. You can have well-defined processes and cutting-edge systems but if they are not used efficiently, the result can differ from expectations. People are the most important asset of organizations but the correct management of talent is even more important, having the right people, with the right knowledge, in the right process and operating the right system can guarantee greater success in the execution of tasks.
A company’s human resources department is commonly responsible for the development of the company’s associates but the truth is that the leader of each department is the ideal person to identify the potential of his team and must have the ability to assign the resource where it generates the most value. Although it is necessary to rely on human resources to define and detect training needs, career or development plans, or even succession or multifunctionality planning, the leader should start the process or work together with human resources. Also, leaders must have the capability to address different ways of thinking of employees as well motivating all of them to do their best. Happy people work better and that is one of the main challenges for leaders in any company.
The interesting thing about managing these pillars – processes, technology and people –is their applicability in any action plan that needs to be executed for any type of initiative since they are completely linked. If the operation needs to be optimized, if the company’s infrastructure requires an update, if there are cybersecurity elements that must be addressed, if you need to offer omnichannel customer-focused services, restructure areas, or carry out medium or long-term action plans the three aforementioned pillars will allow us to have a global vision and see impacts holistically, even allowing the application of small, immediate implementations or improvements or defining short-, medium- or long-term projects according to the size of the changes, the areas involved or the analysis and investment units.
Finally, it is very important to consider that the review of processes, technology and people must be dynamic so that the action plans are easy to implement but with an analysis and global vision, even involving whoever is required to cover the different edges, market and new service and business models that demand immediate and timely changes. Remember, however, that too much analysis generates paralysis and the competition can get one step ahead, which would be catastrophic for the organization.