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Focus on Business, Not Technology

Published By Jeff Ellerbee
Focus on Business, Not Technology

Technology Portfolio Management (TPM) has traditionally focused on reducing the cost and risk of IT through technology standardization and governing projects that alter the IT landscape. We have noticed a maturing trend as TPM moves beyond these fundamental tasks. While there are many factors contributing to this, there are three noteworthy themes we see fairly regularly in successful technology portfolio programs.

Focus on Business, Not Technology

TPM is about enabling a business to change as fast and often as needed. It’s true you can take out costs and decrease certain kinds of risk by standardizing technology, but these benefits are hard to measure. In his 2005 CIO Magazine article (“A New Blueprint for the Enterprise”), Christopher Koch wrote, “Standardizing, mapping and controlling IT assets does not make the business obviously more flexible, capable or profitable.” This mirrors what we see in the field: best in class TPM programs become invaluable by providing business options that can be executed immediately. The ROI is tied to the outcome of the business change itself. Those kinds of options don’t come from technology-centric teams; they come from teams that really know the business and how it operates. These teams have business conversations about technology, rather than technology conversations about “the business.”

Purposefully Manage the Life of Software

Commercial software comes with published and knowable end of life dates, and vendors are constantly improving their products with new and better versions. Yet for many IT organizations, these milestones come and go unnoticed until prompted by the vendor’s sales team, or even by the business itself (in the case of business software).

Best in class TPM programs proactively manage the lifecycle for all the software they run, not just IT software. They treat business software as a first class resource that has its own lifespan and requires management. The expected out of support dates are documented and used to plan for required upgrades well in advance. The roadmaps for products’ upcoming features and capabilities are studied and matched against strategic initiatives, and recommendations are made accordingly.

Put Standards into Context

Is IT the “department of NO”? One of my colleagues joked that “the problem with standards is, there are too many of them.” We often see staff who are overwhelmed, trying to “do the right thing” by picking the correct technology to specify or use in a project. But how does an organization benefit from standardization without sacrificing the innovation necessary to embark upon business changing projects and programs?

Best in class programs recognize that context matters when deciding which standardization rules apply. They present standards as options to be evaluated in business terms, rather than an inflexible “you must choose from this list of approved technologies” For example, try to group specific technologies with specific configurations and giving them a meaningful business-oriented name such as “Secure Web Based Claim Tracking Engine”. These kinds of packages, or “design patterns” as they are usually called, will provide your company with predictable implementation and running costs as well as a coherent support model.

Want to see first-hand what Best in Class TPM looks like? Watch our latest Expert Brief Webcast, “How to Achieve Best in Class Technology Portfolio Management.”

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Written by Jeff Ellerbee

Jeff Ellerbee, Solutions Consultant for Planview Enterprise One Capability and Technology Management. Jeff has helped customers be successful with CTM in the US and UK for 14 years. Jeff is a technical sales leader with more than 19 years of experience creating and selling software. He has designed, built, and successfully marketed five enterprise software products and a healthcare automation device for several venture-backed companies. Jeff is a software engineer turned sales engineer who has progressively shifted toward greater revenue generating responsibilities, taking on new challenges, creating more value for his customers and earning greater personal rewards.