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3. An effective organizer
with skills in:
|Development Plan||Portfolio Documentation|
|Develop practices and mechanisms that foster good project management, prioritizing, and alignment with institutional goals and the strategic plan.||Document with examples the practices and mechanisms developed for improving project management and prioritizing in accordance with institutional goals and the strategic plan.|
I have written here about my experiences at both Andrews University and at Sanitarium Health Food Company.
In 1999, the demand for new IT projects so far outstripped our capacity to deliver that we knew we needed to get input from the whole enterprise to prioritize the projects in accordance with the strategic objectives of the institution. We had identified fifteen "strategic information technologies", and presented brief summaries of each of them in a number of venues. Following each presentation, we asked each person in attendance to vote on the five projects they felt were the most strategically important to the university.
The groups where we did this voting were:
Although some people were members of two or more these groups, we counted each person's vote only once. We also made presentations to the University Senate and the Deans' Council to be sure that no important projects were overlooked.
The fifteen projects that were identified and prioritized by a voting method were (alphabetically):
From this list of fifteen strategic technology projects, when we amalgamated the votes from the different groups (counting only one vote per person), the following five projects received the most votes:
|8.||Imaging & Workflow in Banner|
|1.||Customer Relationship Management|
In addition, the Cabinet chose three other projects for inclusion:
|3.||Disaster Recovery Planning|
|15.||Time & Attendance|
The number of votes received by each project is reported in Voting on the Strategic IT Projects. This prioritization process fed directly into the budgeting and tracking process. Because the Cabinet had been involved in setting the priorities, the projects had good executive support, and I was able to use my position on the Cabinet as CIO to make progress reports. See the report I presented on April 10, 2000. The work done in researching and prioritizing projects in 1999 continued to reap benefits in following years. It formed an integral part of my presentation to the Budget Committee for the 2000/2001 budget process.
On May 16, 2003, I summarized the potential IT Projects / Initiatives / Technologies that I had received requests for during my meetings with various business leaders. Anyone who saw the list agreed that it represented at least three years of work, so one thing it brought into focus for us was the need to have a process for prioritizing IT project requests in accordance with corporate strategic goals. This would address reaction number 2 above. I began working on an IT Portfolio, which will have a 3 to 5 year horizon, and will give visibility to all the business leaders for all the IT projects being considered by the business.
I found that there was excellent executive support for maximizing the value of the very significant investment the company had already made in purchasing SAP, and this led me to propose an Enterprise Architecture policy statement that in effect requires SAP solutions to be considered before any alternatives can be investigated. This address reaction number 3 above.
On June 10, 2003, I met with the Executive Management Group (EMG) and presented my emerging IT Strategy for Sanitarium, in which I covered the following five points.
I used PowerPoint animation to highlight the large gap between an ideal value chain and the fragmented Sanitarium information chain (see the .pdf handout - 1.68MB). The EMG unanimously approved my proposed Enterprise Information Architecture statement:
Enterprise Information Architecture
Because of the company’s investment in SAP, and in the interests of achieving transparent end-to-end visibility for the correlation and analysis of all processes, Sanitarium has adopted SAP as its Enterprise Architecture. This means that new projects will start with an examination of the solution provided through SAP. If the solution falls short on goodness-of-fit criteria, then build-or-buy alternatives will be considered only if they conform to the SAP information architecture. Approval for research into non-SAP solutions requires an action of the IT Steering Committee.
I also presented a process flowchart for approving IT projects, and this was approved, although I was asked to produce a simplified chart for the purposes of announcing the new policies to the company. The Enterprise Architecture statement and the IT Project Approval process were announced to the direct reports of the company's General Managers on June 23, 2003.
At this point in time, we are working on a draft Information Technology Portfolio and a revised IT Strategic Plan.
During the past several weeks, I have received promotional material about four different IT Leadership Conferences.
|The Complete CIO||IDG|
|5th Annual IT Directors' Summit||Marcus Evans|
|Gartner Symposium ITxpo||Gartner|
When I summarized some of the highlights that appealed to me from each of the sessions, I was very interested to notice that some of the very same issues we had just been coming to grips with in IT at Sanitarium were featured topics at one or more of these conferences.
The Complete CIO - IDG
5th Annual Australian IT Director's Summit 2003 - Marcus Evans
Strategy Implementation - Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo
Peter Weill and Richard Woodham (2002) published a working paper at the Sloan Institute for Information Systems Research at MIT called, "Don't Just Lead, Govern: Implementing Effective IT Governance".
"Firms achieving above industry average returns from IT investments must be making consistently better IT-related decisions. Effective IT governance is one of the ways these firms achieve superior returns. Many firms are creating IT governance structures that encourage the behavior leading to achieving the firm's business performance goals. We define IT governance as specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT. Effective IT governance requires careful analysis about who makes decisions and how decisions are made in at least four critical domains of IT: principles, infrastructure, architecture, and investment and prioritization." 
Susan Cramm (2003) referred to this article in "A Cry for Full-Cycle Governance" in the August 1 issue of CIO Magazine. While committee structures for approval and prioritization are important, Cramm says that "at many companies, governance should be called 'govern-once'" ... in reality what passes for governance is often a one-dimensional, checklist-based and attendance-based effort focused solely on project prioritization and approval." "Using a parenting analogy, full-cycle governance forces business leaders to raise the project as one of their own rather than send it to the IT boarding school."  It is more than just choosing the right projects and working out who is responsible. When John Thorp writes about full-cycle governance in The Information Paradox, he says CIOs must ask themselves four "ares":
 Weill, Peter and Woodham,
Richard. (April 2002). Don't just lead, govern: Implementing effective
IT governance [Web]. MIT Sloan. (EN-0879)
 Cramm, Susan H. (2003).
A Cry for Full-Cycle Governance. CIO, August 1, 2003. (EN-0880)
 Thorp, John. (1998). The
Information Paradox. (EN-0645)
McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 0-07-134265-6
Created: Sunday, August 16, 2003 06:33 PM
Last Modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 9:09 PM