Getting 'IT' Done with Bi-Modal Approach

Viren Shah, CIO & VP, Masco Cabinetry
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Viren Shah, CIO & VP, Masco Cabinetry

Viren Shah, CIO & VP, Masco Cabinetry

Information Technology (IT) professionals often face dilemmas such as, “I do not have enough resources to meet the demand” or “demand has increased and now I will be over my budget.” And while this is a constant challenge, we aren’t alone. It’s simply that other business functions have found ways to manage resource supply and demand. In finance, when accounting-related activities create a strain, they scale by hiring external resources temporarily to manage through that equation.

The solution for IT hinges onto identify and manage operating principles of fixed and variable supply and demand has been in existence for centuries. In IT, we can separate our demand into two groups: fixed or Services and variable or Projects. Separating these two important components helps us build a predictable model. Depending on the organization’s maturity in the lifecycle, using these techniques can predict IT demand between 2 percent –10 percent accuracy.

Services – The Fixed Demand

The Services aspect of IT includes fixed demandand supply. Fixed demand includes infrastructure and services where demand can be easily projected out, resources planned and budgets created accordingly. By using metrics such as incidents, system monitoring and capacity utilization, we can gauge how many resources, both capital and human, will be required.

Included in fixed supply–or fixed costs–are infrastructure components, help desk personnel,support etc.In other words, fixed supply means “I have x amount of resources to keep the business running.”

Projects – The Variable Demand

The Projects aspect includes variable demand and supply. Variable demand house projects that are less defined and have a tendency to evolve as your environment changes or your business plans change. The most volatile demandis the number of developers needed, and in-house personnel are normally absorbed in other projects. Because of the fluid nature of these demands, costs are inclined to increase.

Based on the maturity of the organization, the variability in demand–and cost–can range from 20% – 80%. In a startup organization, the variability is much higher than an organization where standard operating procedures are well established.

“By using a variable and fixed organization model it is possible to get “IT” done as it allows IT to scale resources up or down based on the variability in the business needs.”

The main objective for controlling projects involves controllingvariable supplylike your project managers, developers etc. As previously mentioned, relying on in-house personnel means pulling them away from other projects or services slowing all IT progress. The key to success is to find a reliable resource partner.

Resource Partners

As your company projects future revenue, projects are defined and planning begins. During the planning phase, variable resources needed should be identified and planned. And, with a resource partner, it can be managed. Over the lifetime of a project, the resource partner can scale assets up or down to meet demand.

Cloud Infrastructure

Another step to help manage variable projects is utilizing a cloud infrastructure. These models are the most dynamic, allowing ease of scaling infrastructure as test environments are required or completed. In addition, using the cloud is economical and agile, saving company resources.

Steps to Execute the Model

First, isolate bodies of work in alignment with functional owners. Understanding the different functional needs is critical. For example, in a manufacturing organization, Marketing, Sales and Finance all fall under Order to Cash as an IT function. Ensuring that all of the Order to Cash capabilities are understood otherwise a lot of conflicting priorities can pull your team in different directions.

Next, build a Projects and Services based organization structure. Create a Project teamcomprised of Delivery Managers, BAs, Technical Designers, Developers, and Testers to focus exclusively on projects. Areliable resource partner and a cloud infrastructure will be the key to managing variable costs associated with projects.

The third step is creating a Service team including Network, Support and Incremental Enhancements. This team is responsible for keeping the business running.

Finally, be sure you arein alignment with business partners at all times.A communication cadence is the key to this aspect across the different levels in an organization. An IT order to cash team member at the director level should be aligned with the respective functional directors. Touch base weekly with a standardized report to ensure alignment. The only way to flex the IT muscles is to scale in either direction byalignment with business partners.

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