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Mind the (expectation) gap

Carsten Larsen | Sept. 21, 2016
This post considers ICT governance, the patina of standards, policies, procedures, priorities and budgetary issues that guide the priorities and deliverables of technology functions.

This consultative process will enable ICT to develop a broader “demand portfolio”, a qualified list of what the organisation’s ICT requirements are.

This can then be evaluated against the supply side – how the requirements fit within the ICT architecture, sourcing strategy and available resources.

Almost inevitably, the demand side will outstrip the supply side. At this point, trust between the ICT function and stakeholders can be sorely tested or enhanced.

Having a well-considered and transparent methodology for prioritisation is critical to negotiating in a manner that builds trust. Priorities may vary depending on the nature of the organisation but will generally include a number of agreed ‘drivers’.

These can either be either success or risk factors such as:

Success drivers


Business value

Risk mitigation

Strategic fit

Risks profile

Increased revenue


Cost reduction

Capacity and skills

Customer experience

Architectural fit

Staff productivity

Staff retention

Carefully evaluate each initiative against the drivers and use them to help guide discussions with stakeholders. For example, an initiative for which the organisational has little or no appetite is unlikely to succeed.

An initiative that is high risk may also be a difficult proposition, but if the business value is extremely high (e.g., business benefits, cost reductions), then rate it accordingly.

And if excellent internal skills can be relied upon to support delivery of an initiative, then it is more likely to succeed than one that relies on scarce external skills. Rate it accordingly.

It is equally important to work with stakeholders to evaluate each initiative against applicable organisational policies as part of this process. If an initiative does not comply with say, data management or security policy, then it will be need to be reconsidered.

Read more:Vic Government's ICT strategy to save state $400m

Create a balanced partnership between demand, supply and governance

With commitment to consultation and clear communication, this process will allow organisational initiatives to be ranked in a manner that will best balance ICT demand and supply in the organisation, optimising its ability to deliver fit-for-purpose outcomes on time and on budget.

Ensure that the priorities are then clearly set out in the annual program plan and formally endorsed by the relevant executive and financial committees. Each of the cascading plans that flows from this – whether they be business cases, project plans and the like – should then align with this.

Finally, do not put these plans in the bottom drawer – they are the map, the shield and the sword. Almost inevitably, there will be obstacles, doubters and people with strong ideas on ICT operations.

A plan, forged through collaboration and clear evaluation, will help navigate these issues, keep things on track, and build trust in the ICT function through reliable delivery.


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