IT Complexity – Making Sense of the Tangle

IT complexityAs a child, I remember very well entering a kite-flying competition; I had a great kite and was certain that I was in with a good chance to winning. However, an hour after the start, my kite string was in such a knotted muddle I spent the rest of the day depressed, desperately trying to untangle it just to get started. I am not sure we ever unravelled the string and I certainly did not get the kite off the ground. What has that got to do with IT strategy? Well, have you ever been presented with one of those wonderful IT system spaghetti diagrams, showing how all the systems and IT components interface together? I suspect if you have you feel rather like I did as a child, unravelling the knots in all that string just trying to get started. The sheer tangled mess of your IT complexity hides the real questions and hinders the decision making.

In my view, the first step to understanding any portfolio is to reduce all that tangled IT complexity a little and set out the real questions in a way that is structured but understandable, layering the structure if needed. So how do you do this? You could grab your nearest management consultant but that is just delegating the challenge, not solving it! True, most consultancies worth hiring (and cibsys is no exception), will come with a way of structuring the decisions and presenting the facts clearly – that’s what they are paid to provide. Some, like us, even have some tools to get you started. Take a look at our example here. So how do they approach it, and what are the key tips and secrets?

My recommendation is to start at the top of your organisation and break it into a number of manageable dimensions, then review your IT landscape against these. Obvious examples might be: drilling down the business structure, whether internal departments or regional entities, re-evaluating the process value chain, cost centre structure etc. It is also good to understand the key measures and consider these in the context of the organisation drivers. Clearly cost will be on the agenda but speed of change and other service measures should also be considered. With dimensions in place and a set of key measures these can be used to map out the systems and contracts that are in place and then drive the decision making whether based on drill down/prioritised lists, landscape maps or dashboards.  By elevating the tangled mass to a clearer, more structured approach it is often easy to see where the real problems stem from: mismatched and misaligned services, fragmented landscapes or high cost areas.

So in summary if you want to understand your IT, ditch the spaghetti.

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