We are often asked to carry out a review of some aspect of a business’s management of IT. Sometimes this is in response to a specific area of concern, like a programme, or the use of technology for a particular purpose (like systems management), or a specific issue (like security), or the management of technology for a particular section of the business (like order management), or even the management of a highly visible and severe technology incident (like a SAN failure).
We might also be asked to provide a wider management review of the supply side, looking at the ways in which the CIO manages the demand from the business, as well as the individual functions that need to be carried out to be both efficient and effective. Most organisations will have a mixture of good and bad, and companies that have been in existence for at least 50 years will also have the challenge of legacy systems. Young, fast growing companies have a different challenge, namely how to manage the growth without sowing the seeds of what will become legacy problems.
Often the first stage of a review will identify a small number of areas which deserve further investigation, but this will typically depend on a clear understanding of what the IT capability has to achieve – how it will add value to the business, and how its failures of vision or execution may hold the business back.
Differentis therefore carries out a contextual risk assessment, looking for common issues:
Identifying what isn’t known
Large, sophisticated firms have excellent capabilities and are adept at managing what they know. An Independent Review helps identify things they don’t know, early enough so that they can be anticipated and managed.
Testing the assumptions
Any large, complex endeavour is based on a set of assumptions concerning vendor capability, internal capability, steps in the process, enterprise readiness, resources required and the like. It is best to have an experienced third party test those assumptions throughout the process of conception, requirements, planning, development, deployment, testing and early operation. It is far better to identify issues related to assumptions before the journey than to suddenly encounter them whilst underway.
Objective third party perspective
As the past few years of IT experience have shown, there is often a tremendous gap between what a vendor, consultant, user or IT management team may wish to do and what can be practically done for a given amount of time and money. Different parties are very likely to quickly develop vested and inconsistent views on what is ideal, and on what is practical. One rationale for an independent review is to create a shared view based on an objective, unvested perspective related to process, scope, achievability, steps, resources, capabilities and expectations.
The Independent Reviewer brings a broad range of experiences gathered from a variety practical attempts at relevant implementations. Those experienced perspectives can be brought to bear early enough to make an impact on time, resources and success.
Large endeavours often take on a life of their own at multiple levels. Among these are the executive, policy, business practice, strategy, architectural, technical, programme, contractor, project, implementation, testing, training. operational, support and user experience levels. The Independent Review helps ensure that all of these effort levels are joined-up and duly considered.
Project and Programme Reviews
When asked to review a Project or Programme, we use a tool we call “The Brickwall” which combines structured questions with the skill and experience of our Consultants to provides key constructive and pragmatic outputs for our clients, expressed in terms of Issues, Contingencies, Actions & Red Flags. An example summary is shown below:
We have the skills to assist clients put in place and manage any remedial actions, and to condition the project / programme / endeavour for successful delivery.