I have a confession to make. I used to work in IT. I know, it’s not the sort of thing that you readily own up to, but I was young and naïve, and things were different then. I was swayed by the vision that IT could be the enabling tool for organisational excellence, joining everything together seamlessly and effortlessly, doing just what was needed, always on, and nobody would ever have to ask you to ‘turn it off and then on again’.
My real confession is that, underneath, I still believe that. Although I have strayed far from the technical path, and nowadays spend my time concerned with the more esoteric subjects of strategy and governance, I still keep my eye open for how organisations use their IT. I genuinely feel that there are not many, if any, organisations that are excellent despite their IT set-up. Indeed I would go so far as to venture that excellent IT is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for overall organisational excellence, and by IT I mean the information systems and processes too.
Having said that, there are still many organisations (and speak it quietly, maybe executives) that have a strictly utility approach to IT; if there is a green light on the box and a signal for the mobile phone, and it stays on all day, that’s good enough. I might extend this to those with a purely functional approach (housing management, finance, payroll etc.) for whom transactional delivery (can I process that invoice/repair request…) is the sole objective.
However a brief canter, stopping to pause and reflect occasionally, through the hot topics of the day (risk, governance, value for money, compliance, service excellence, social impact et al) illustrates that good quality cross-functional, strategic information is simply an absolute essential for good governance, not just a nice to have.
So, here are some questions for you. If the regulator came knocking on a Monday and asked you to demonstrate compliance with all of the regulatory standards, how long would it take you to assemble the evidence pack? Do you have the strategic, as well as the functional information that you need? Are your information systems supporting, or hindering, your governance?
Mark Sweeny, Senior Consultant, supports and advises organisations on information technology, systems, strategy and and performance. He can be contacted on can be contacted on 07887 512165 and firstname.lastname@example.org