Driving IT Excellence Is A Key Success Factor To Meet Current & Future IT Demands And Challenges

by Sritharan S - Deputy General Manager-IT, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Limited

Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited is a subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH, one of the world's leading global suppliers of technology and services, offering end-to-end Engineering, IT and Business Solutions.

 

“Improvements in the world of technology and business should always also be beneficial for mankind.” – Robert Bosch.

 

Today IT systems play a paramount role in business decisions, strategy formulation and innovations. In today’s world, role of CIO is not limited as only a technology enabler, but also part of Business decision teams and ensure alignment of IT strategies with Business strategies.

Following questions are ringing most of the time in every CIO’s mind:

  • How to enrich our customer experience and contribute to business success?
  • What is the best time to upgrade the IT system with latest trends –Dichotomy between latest trends vs stable solution?
  • How to keep the per capita operating costs lower year on year?

 

To help manage these ringing bells, every CIO would make his own charter; let us call it as “IT Excellence” model. One of the models that can be very well adopted by CIOs is the EFQM Business Excellence model. The model considers various aspects like leadership, strategy, processes, and resources.

Let us discuss some elements of Strategy in this article. IT strategy forms the CORE of this model describing the enterprise architecture with obsolescence roadmap, selection criteria for Global vs Local solution adaptability, Vendor management, change management strategies, and business processes. Let us elaborate on some of these elements.

Global vs Local IT Systems: Normally in big organizations, IT systems and solutions, especially ERP systems are standardized and driven from the central teams. Similarly, data centers are consolidated. For an entity or division specific requirement implementation of localized solutions brings quick benefits. 

Early Adapter vs Stable Solutions: For the business critical requirements preferring proven and stable solutions reduces the business risks.  At the same time for evolving / non critical business needs, adopting latest IT trends would give hands-on experience of latest technology, but comes with its own challenges. Business demand always exists for latest trends like mobility. However, requirements are to be analyzed carefully keeping benefits vs costs vs security vs future direction in mind.

In-Source vs Outsource: IT companies which have their own IT talent pool need to strategically consider both in -sourcing and out- sourcing options for IT needs for their advantage.

Focus on User Experience: Comprehensive approach to User experience should be defined as part of IT strategy. IT systems not only have aesthetic look, but also transactions performed should be simple, intuitive, and easy to use, to put it in two words –it should be Child’s Play. A test of this is absence of any major user training during application launch.

New Business Demands: Current linear model of IT services demands proportional increase in resource base (personnel capacity) to meet the business growth. This often requires setting up of new facilities across geographies and setting of basic IT infrastructure, networks and managing the bandwidth.

Where all the information / data of business processes are captured in more than one IT systems, deployment of business intelligence technologies will help in gaining the business insights at function as well as enterprise level, this in turn helps in informed decision making.

With the changing nature of the business, the business processes and IT systems also need to be adopted.  Business Process Architecture helps in managing the increasing complexity of the business process landscape. This helps in managing dynamic business processes and stable business / IT capabilities. Simplification, standardization, continuous improvement would help to renew / innovate enterprise level business process.

Most of the big ticket business / IT projects are supported by cross functional change management team for a smooth change over.

Optimization of IT Operational costs: While executing projects in order to maximize benefit and keep costs down it is very essential to use resources optimally. Resources are not just people but software licenses, hardware, labs.

Resource planning as part of the project management plays a key role in optimization of resources. But there are also many key ingredients which go a long way in optimizing resources and costs both at project and organization level. Few are listed below:

  • Question WHY a certain thing is done in a certain way. You will soon realize that there are better and easier ways of doing things which will save both time and money.
  • Software Licenses: At an organization level it is very beneficial to create a central software license pool.  This will ensure optimal utilization of licenses and also help in negotiating better volume rate contracts with vendors. Also, evaluate the licensing models suitable for the project / organization including fixed Vs floating licenses, Device Vs User CAL licenses etc.
  • Effective Hardware Utilization: Tracking of hardware including desktops, laptops and servers and its utilization is very important. Many times after the project completion, teams lose track of the hardware and new ones are ordered. Therefore, invest in a hardware tracker which will trigger notifications when it is not used for a specific duration (maybe a month), to maximize value. Pooling of assets may help in better distribution and increase utilization.
  • Engineering Lab Management System: Typically, high investments are made in setting up Engineering Labs. To maximize ROI the project teams have to effectively share and utilize the lab resources round the clock. This can be achieved by investing in a Lab Management system and movement tracking with the support of IT solutions like RFID.
  • Publish IT Cost Dashboards: Centrally monitor and publish IT Cost dashboards to the cost center owners so that they can track IT resources optimally. In many cases during the execution of projects IT services are ordered, but once the project is closed the teams fail to un-register the services resulting in wasted resources and costs.

Many companies adopt Green-IT initiatives which are part of corporate social responsibility initiative where IT systems are optimized to reduce carbon foot print and saving trees. Some of the examples are managed print services (saving paper in turn trees), carpooling applications, and energy saving initiatives.

Conclusion: Implementing a structured IT excellence model brings more clarity to identify and address the business demands. Success of this model depends on detailed definitions of individual elements, collaborative planning with all stakeholders and continuous monitoring of all implementation measures.