Small steps to a better IT spend
“Take baby steps,” he says. “You’ve got to crunch the project down and break it into bits that people can get their heads around. But you need to let them see the bigger picture at the same time. If they can only see the bit they are working on they will have no appreciation for the goals of the overall project.”
After that comes the by now almost clichéd search for quick wins, but McGee is somewhat more nuanced. “You should pick early wins that really matter. Finance people like these of course but you should also find the quick wins that will turn people on. Find out what people want and then see if you can make a difference on those things early on.”
The next area he speaks of is certainly not obvious and that is the overall governance of an organisation’s IT investment. “When an organisation looks at getting more out of IT the issue is almost always one of fixing what they’ve got,” he explains.
“And every organisation has legacy applications and systems but how do you define these? In some companies a legacy application is anything which went in before last week. Legacy applications don’t have to be old. The issue is how quickly they go out of date or need replacement. The same processes and technologies used by HR in areas like succession planning should be used for IT. You also need to use the best economic allocation model for the overall IT investment.”
And that leads neatly on to financial modelling. “You need to do a financial model for IT,” he says.
“In a perfect world reinvestment in IT would be a constant, but real projects have peaks and you need to be able to plan ahead to finance these.”
His final point is on risk identification. “You need to know where the risks are and plan for them. Good project managers know how to identify risks and will do that in relation to the project itself.
“However, the real threats tend to come from the broader environment and not from within IT itself. A good CIO is listening to the business environment to pick up risks. People are key to overall success in this regard. If you have people throughout the organisation supporting the project you can minimise these risks and greatly increase the overall prospects of success.”