Computing research: the business of IT decision-making

By John Leonard
19 Jun 2012 View Comments
boardroom-pp

In part one of this research we looked at the roles of the various IT decision-makers within large and small organisation at the different stages of the decision-making journey. It was discovered that while senior managers (CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, and IT directors) are instrumental in the final stages of any major IT decision, most of the effort up to that point is put in by those lower down the hierarchy, namely by IT managers, analysts, engineers and other specialists. Only once solutions and vendors have been shortlisted and a business case has been drawn up do the upper tiers of management really become actively involved.

Further reading

This time around we will see how the scope of the project determines who is in­volved and where the funding comes from.

Objectives

There are many reasons why organisations make changes to their IT estate. To replace outdated equipment, to upgrade to the latest version of an operating system or groupware package, to plug a security hole or bring on board a new enterprise application, for example. But not all IT interventions are the same. Some are routine technical procedures, with little or no involvement from the wider business, while others are more strategic – for example, a decision to move towards a cloud model to increase agility or to consolidate infrastructure for improved regulatory compliance.

For most organisations, the primary objectives driving IT decisions fall into three categories:  maintaining or improving service levels; operational efficiencies;
and cost control (figure 1).

fig1-itdm2

The focus on operational efficiencies and cost cutting – doing more with less – is no surprise in times of economic uncertainty, but even during the good times creating a leaner, more streamlined business is often the primary function of technology as viewed by the broader business.

Ensuring the maintenance of the service provided to customers, partners and employees is equally as important, with large numbers of IT purchases driven by existing system requirements, such as contract renewals, or out of necessity – for example replacing end-of-life equipment, upgrading or replacing servers for additional capacity, or standardising systems following a merger or acquisition.

While these priorities are common to both large and small organisations, there are subtle differences between the two. Broadly speaking, for large organisations, objectives are more operationally oriented – with compliance, efficiency and cost-cutting coming to the fore. Within smaller companies, objectives are more end-user focused – providing better tools and increasing productivity are more important goals for these firms than they are for their larger counterparts.

 

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