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IT Success!: Towards a New Model for Information Technology

ISBN: 978-0-470-72401-9
182 pages
November 2007
IT Success!: Towards a New Model for Information Technology (0470724013) cover image
“Fifty years after the birth of corporate computing, IT today is still characterized by 50-70% project failure rates. Which is pretty scary when you come to think of it: either a goblin has cast a spell on a whole profession – or that profession is doing something fundamentally wrong”.

IT Success! challenges the widespread assumption that an IT department is like a building contractor whose project managers, architects and engineers (all construction industry terms…) are supposed to deliver systems on schedule, within budget and to spec. Michael Gentle explains why this is not possible, and turns conventional wisdom on its head by showing that: 

  • you cannot define an IT project in terms of contractual budgets and schedules
  • anything can change during the life of a project
  • what is eventually delivered can never be what is actually needed

He proposes a new model for IT in which the traditional client/vendor relationship, with its contractual commitments, is replaced by a shared risk/reward partnership geared towards workable results over time. Using real-world examples and a case study, the author walks you through the end-to-end processes of an IT department, covering subjects like demand management, investment planning, agile development and managing production applications.

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Introduction.

Acknowledgements.

Abbreviations.

PART I: BLINDED BY SPECS.

1 In Search of Excellence the Fundamentals.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A worldwide phenomenon.

How the traditional IT model started.

The construction industry trap.

The free lunch trap.

Houses of ill repute.

A business problem rather than an IT problem.

IT and original sin.

No sacred cows.

2 IT 101 – The Basics for Non-Specialists.

The process breakdown for traditional IT activities.

The process breakdown for business (i.e. non-IT) activities.

The fundamental difference between IT and non-IT activities.

'That's not my problem!' – process ownership and behaviour.

3 The Flaws of the Traditional Model.

The unintended consequences of the waterfall method.

In search of a pizza parlour manager.

Who provides process expertise – client or vendor?

When standard client–vendor relationships are possible.

When standard client–vendor relationships pose problems.

Is a standard client–vendor relationship possible for IT?

The 'Statement of Requirements' (SoR) trap.

A poor to non-existent pricing model.

Should IT be run like a business (i.e. an ESP)?

The limits of outsourcing.

Current IT organizational trends.

The ultimate litmus test to determine one's business model.

What model would be appropriate for IT?

PART II: BUILDING A NEW BUSINESS MODEL FOR IT.

4 Managing Demand.

Managing demand – traditional model.

Managing demand – new model.

Capturing demand and identifying opportunities.

Prioritizing and approving demand.

Planning approved demand.

Linking demand to resource capability.

Approving demand based on portfolios.

The missing component in Project Portfolio Management.

Business cases are in the eye of the beholder.

Building the IT plan and budget.

Demand from a customer perspective.

Shaking off the chains of the construction industry.

Funding approved demand.

Roles and responsibilities.

5 Managing Supply.

Managing supply – traditional model.

Managing supply - new model.

Iterative development in practice.

Why prototyping has never become mainstream.

Is prototyping the answer to everything?

Project critical success factors.

Maintenance - letting go of the M-word.

Delivery and implementation.

Service and support.

6 Monitoring Costs and Benefits.

Monitoring costs and benefits for traditional IT activities.

Monitoring costs and benefits for business (non-IT) activities.

Monitoring costs and benefits – new model.

Ownership and accountability for costs and benefits.

Cost–benefit analysis during the life of a project.

It is normal for costs and benefits to change!

Portfolio performance monitoring.

Cost–benefit analysis after project delivery.

7 Financials.

The main categories of IT costs.

Ownership of IT costs for the regulation of supply and demand.

Who has the final say for IT investments?

Allocations vs cross-charging.

Capturing costs for allocations and cross-charging.

Benefits as part of the P&L and annual planning.

Ongoing cost–benefit analysis for applications.

Reducing application lifetime costs.

The limits of financial ROI when applied to IT.

PART III: THE NEW MODEL IN PRACTICE.

8 Players, Roles and Responsibilities.

Players, roles and responsibilities – the business.

Players, roles and responsibilities – IT.

The new business–IT relationship.

The changing role of the business analyst.

The changing role of the developer.

Towards the merging of the developer and analyst roles?

The changing role of the project manager.

The changing role of the operations department.

What role for PMOs?

The role of External Service Providers (ESPs).

9 Getting Started.

The business challenge.

The IT challenge.

Where to start.

How to start – from checklist to action plan.

From the status quo to first results.

From first results to asset management.

The role of best-practice methodologies.

How consulting companies can help.

How tools can help.

The costs of moving to the new model.

In closing – addressing the three fundamental questions.

Further reading.

10 Case Study.

The company.

The business problem.

The project context.

Building an IT–business partnership.

Kicking off the project.

Feasibility study and defining a solution.

Building the business case.

Project approach.

Product evaluation – buy or build decision.

Building a prototype.

Results.

Timescales.

Three months later.

One year later.

Two years later.

Main lessons learnt (on the plus side).

Main lessons learnt (on the minus side).

Comments with respect to the new model.

Reader feedback.

Index.

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"...a clever synthesis of enlightened IT project management thinking over the last few years."  (Financial Times, Wednesday 21st November 2007)
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