Tag Archives: transparency

IT is from Venus, the Business is from Mars

By David Bicknell

Monday morning and another week for IT and the business to work together in the best interests of the organisation – though if you were to read this article from the Wall St Journal, you might think otherwise.

The  piece, “IT is from Venus, non-IT is from Mars”, by research scientist George Westerman from the MIT Centre for Digital Business, suggests  that in many companies, the relationship between IT and business leaders is a very troubled marriage. Miscommunication is rife, leaving executives struggling to figure out what’s working for the company, what’s not, and how to improve the situation.

The article argues that ‘the marriage’ can be saved, provided IT and business executives have a clearer understanding of the needs of both sides, how they work and the challenges they face. That means business leaders and IT executives must talk with each other about their operations and about how IT can help the company fulfill its goals, instead of talking past each other about how one side or the other is preventing that from happening.

The article cites four separate studies by researchers at MIT that show that transparency—clear communication about IT performance and decision processes—is the best predictor of the business value of IT. These studies all show that transparency creates an environment that improves both IT performance and the IT/Business relationship.

The article discusses four areas where IT and non-IT executives fail to understand each other clearly, and how transparency can help bridge the gap between two completely different interpretations.

On IT Cost and Performance:

The Business says: “IT costs too much; we’re not getting the service we’re paying for.”

IT says: “Given our budget constraints, we’re doing really well.”

On Risk Management:

Business says: “I want it this way.”

IT says: “We can’t do it that way.”

On Prioritisation:

Business says: “I need this right away.”

IT says: “Sure, but three other executives just told me the same thing.”

On Accountability:

Business says: “Why do you make me go through all of this bureaucracy?”

IT says: “Our methodologies are how we make sure everyone does the right thing.”

The article concludes that “creating transparency takes extra time and effort on everyone’s part, especially IT’s. But this is one project that definitely pays. Transparency around performance and decision processes improves the business value of IT and builds trust between business and IT people. As everyone learns to work better together, IT becomes part of the company’s business-level decisions and initiatives, not its own world. When that happens, the marriage of IT and the business side is really working.”

US Government opens its books on IT projects

By David Bicknell

The Office of Management and Budget in the US has gone some way to opening up the books on IT investments to public scrutiny with the updating of the Agency’s IT Dashboard.

The move,  announced by Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel, makes publicly available detailed IT investment information in support of the President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget.

The Obama Administration launched the IT Dashboard in 2009 to create  more transparent and open government.

As VanRoekel says in his blog,  “By publicly posting data on more than 700 IT investments across the Federal government, we armed agencies with the tools needed to reduce duplication in IT spending, strengthen the accountability of agency CIOs, and provide more accurate and detailed information on projects and activities. We also gave Americans an unprecedented window into how their tax dollars were being spent.”

VanRoekel says the latest dashboard will provide greater transparency of IT investment performance and empower CIOs to intervene in troubled projects sooner. Changes include:

Making the Dashboard more accessible: the Dashboard will now provide access to individual projects and activities associated with an investment, link investments to funding sources, and include visualisations to track investment performance from year-to-year.

Identifying duplication: New data on what kind of services each investment provides will help US agencies identify and address duplication in their IT portfolios.

Improving data quality: Improved validations and warnings will prevent erroneous data from coming into the system,  while new data quality reports will help agencies identify improvements they can make to their existing data

More data and tools: More datasets are now being made available, as well as additional tools to enable the public to participate by downloading and building their own applications.

According to VanRoekel, the  transparency enhancements will improve the way US taxpayers’ dollars are spent. He argues that by using the IT Dashboard and Techstat accountability developments to focus on the most challenged critical projects, agencies and the Office of Management and Budget have driven reforms that have saved taxpayers upwards of $4 billion since the initial launch.