I.T. Management: Are You the Roadblock?

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-06-27 Print this article Print

One-third of business executives believe their I.T. departments can't keep pace with the change of business, according to a recent survey.

Chances are, someone in your company thinks the information-technology department isn't nimble enough.

One-third of business executives believe their I.T. departments have "significant difficulties" or "can't keep up at all" with the pace of change in the business, according to a survey released this month by the Business Performance Management Forum, a marketing group backed by IBM and other tech firms.

And while half give I.T. a passing grade—saying the department handles change "pretty well"—they still say there are "some difficulties" (see table, below). The study, which polled 320 executives in various industries, was sponsored by webMethods, a vendor of application integration software.

How can a chief information officer correct the perception that I.T. is dragging its heels? Often, it helps to remind business managers that there's a process to prioritizing projects, says Jon Payne, CIO of Wild Oats Markets, a $1.1 billion organic grocery chain in Boulder, Colo.

"There's always more demand for the I.T. department than there are resources," he says. "It's a constant battle." Payne, who joined Wild Oats in January 2004, oversees a staff of 29 full-time staffers plus outsourcing partners.

Check out Baseline senior writer Kim Nash's blog entry, "Managing Your Monster Boss"

Payne takes a portfolio management approach—organizing work around the top 10 projects that the CEO and senior executives have approved. That way, when new project proposals arise, they can be evaluated against the ones already underway.

"You need an orderly way to get ideas evaluated and triaged," he says, "so you have an agreement of: 'OK, how much of this work can we absorb and do?'"

How well is your I.T. department keeping pace to change key business processes?

Very well, no difficulties 11.4%
Pretty well, some difficulties 50.2%
Significant difficulties 27.1%
Can't keep up at all 9.1%
Don't know 2.2%

Source: Business Performance Management Forum and webMethods, June 2006


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