IT is Not The Problem, The Rate of Change Is

By June 12, 2013Uncategorized

In the IT department of probably every growing enterprise, there lives at least one application that receives requests for “more, better, and faster.” Marketing, for example,  wants to pull more data out of the existing customer analytic tools; Finance needs a new application to calculate international tax liabilities; and Sales, as usual, wants leads and pipeline data faster.

Every one of these groups can make a case that its needs directly impact the bottom line and deserve priority one status. (They also generally do not acknowledge that other departments may suffer as a result.) Meanwhile, IT  is putting together sprint schedules, organizing around scrum practices, and generally trying to keep its head above water. At the end of the day, requests for more applications and changes to existing ones never stop. IT starts to tread water —  and hopes it can maintain the proposed delivery schedule. Application backlog is the reality– but not

This scenario is generally the result of three things: human nature, over-reliance on technology and unrealistic expectations. We all tend to want more, but may fail to recognize that with finite resources like IT, “more” can be elusive. Whether it’s more requirements (as a result of scope creep) or more demand (for applications), more time is required to review and prioritize requests. As a result,  less time is available to deliver  the solutions themselves. Add to that the fact that IT may be thinking about having to develop a custom solution when an off-the-shelf solution may easily (and more quickly) address the need.what anyone wants to hear.

Application backlog tends to be driven by importance,  perceived importance, and/or  executive sponsorship. This isn’t to say that IT doesn’t have filters and requirements — it does! And (being somewhat parochial as in the case of business processes), assisting both line of business (LOB) and IT can be  more easily accomplished than one might expect.

We’ve all become enamored with what technology can do for us. And, of course, we have lofty ideas about what we need and deserve. Quite often, however, the solution to what can help an organization improve its business is best done by a team who understand the requirements – in conjunction with the tool that can assist them.

The reality of working in a busy enterprise is that we just don’t know what issue will take utmost priority at any given time. Smart organizations are optimized to address ‘change’ when it occurs. Customer demands, market conditions, product issues or any number of things can dramatically alter what the enterprise needs to address. And IT is generally at the mercy of these changes when an internal process or tool is part of the solution. They essentially operate a service business, serving where they are needed most. When a new ‘top priority’ is identified, other issues already in the queue are pushed back. Thereby creating the backlog.

There’s really nothing unusual about this type of operational methodology. It’s what works and keeps organizations on top of the most important priorities. But there’s a cost associated with changing priorities. That cost is felt most deeply by the LOB manager who has a request on hold in the IT queue.
It is a foregone conclusion that a request, irrespective of how big and impactful it is, will be sidelined unless it’s directly a part of either revenue generation, bottom line optimization — or damage control. For the LOB manager, however,  changing, automating and optimizing a process can be a key issue. It affects the way the business unit is able to deliver against its goals. And that certainly has an impact on the overall business.

That leaves us with an IT team scrambling to stay on top of issues — and departments that are less productive until their backlogged requests are addressed. At BP Logix, we are a BPM company that believes that LOB managers have the context  to understand their departmental needs and are happy to work with IT  to own and implement ( rather than build) a solution. We hear that from customers who find  that Process Director enables them to address their needs for process change without involving a lot of IT resources. Rather, with IT’s blessing, they can be self-sufficient.

Clearly, some projects coming from internal business owners demand custom development . That will always be the case.

When an organization adopts Process Director, the reduction in application backlog and process efficiency is dramatic. You’ll see in our customer profiles that we’re repeatedly told about how important it was for business groups to be able to own their process and use their expertise to affect changes within their organizations. Sometimes the process changes were  simple. In other cases, an entire process needed to be created, modified and/or automated. Process Director has become  popular because it is easy to use yet also has functionality that enables organizations to deal with both simple and very complex processes.

We all know that it is empowering to solve your own problems. When the business units can work seamlessly with IT to forge a solution that empowers both groups, that is a win-win. And that’s what Process Director is all about.

–Marti Colwell, VP Marketing & Business Development