Process Improvement Should Be Primary Focus of IT

Ann All

Does IT pay enough attention to process?


Maybe not, contends Prevoyance Group President Patrick Gray in this CIOUpdate column. While IT pays more attention to processes than other business units, it tends to focus on diagramming or analyzing them rather than actually improving them, he says. And IT focuses too narrowly on technology as a process improvement panacea.


Gray suggests that CIOs should supplement IT's techie ranks with process improvement experts. That way, companies won't necessarily need to turn to outside consultants to lead their process improvement efforts. It's a great way for IT to closely align itself with business strategy and prove its worth to skeptics.


This approach may result in pushback from some business execs, who believe they are better positioned to lead process improvement initiatives, according to this article. IT executives must persevere, however. IT is the natural leader, because of its high-level view of an organization, its technology expertise, and its familiarity with modeling and process analysis.


In fact, says process improvement expert Kiran Garimella in an IT Business Edge interview, smart CIOs will reposition themselves as Chief Process Officer and will adopt a technology platform that facilitates the integration of business processes with enterprise applications. The resulting process-oriented environment will free a company's employees from dwelling on non-essential information and allow them to focus on the areas that can boost competitive advantage.

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Jan 4, 2007 2:49 AM David Chassels David Chassels  says:
This is an evolutionary step. CIO is about "information" which should be business aligned. The modern CIO needs be able to understand that business fundamentals do not nor will change. CTO is about delivery technologies and are always changing. Accept this and at last we see a separation in “IT”. The next step, which as the article indicates, is to understand “Processes”. BUT not quite there yet – what exactly is understood in a defining “process” – to the business it is about People undertaking their daily tasks and are the source of all information and activity that makes a business. “Systems only “churn” what is feed into them.  The CIO to become CPO needs to get down to a level whereby technology is not an issue and understand in some detail how people work. Another hard lesson to absorb is that there is no such thing as an “enterprise application” it has been a superb marketing hype by some rather large vendors that has cost companies dearly. They are little more than integrated General Ledgers that keep the score! Another aspect and inferred in the article is employees focusing on their areas of expertise.  Businesses work with employees as individuals in relatively small teams and collectively they all make the business. Logic says well let’s start here not with some mammoth system at the centre imposing prescriptive ways that are not natural to human interaction.  Business software has to recognise all this and be adopted by all “C” level execs. Do not expect large vendors to lead in this task orientated approach – it is too simple and lacks complexity threatening revenue generation. Jumping from CIO to CPO is a big step but it would be unwise to leave "I" without a "C" and it must not fall into "T" hands. Maybe the CFO might regain control over Information after a gap of over 30 years! Reply

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