You could be forgiven for thinking that the agile movement is taking over the world. For example, Amazon is famously agile and because it can make changes to its software every second it can maintain its lead in existing markets whilst conquering new ones. But look more carefully and, of course, things are more complicated than that. In many respects, leading digital businesses are not as agile as they seem.
Don’t expect any return on investment in IT Earlier this week, during a short twitter exchange with @dhinchcliffe, I decided to write a more substantial post about why your IT department needs to stop chasing its own agenda. This will be an easier case to make if you realise that IT investments and IT projects generally don’t make any sense. Rather than try to persuade you of this (no doubt you will already have an opinion about this) let me share a tool I use all the time and challenge you to show me where I am going wrong.
Is it just me or is there anyone else out there who actually likes developing business cases? Maybe there are a few but I am sure we are outnumbered by the many who find business cases a long-winded, administrative chore. Why on earth would anyone want to get excited about this?
In a recent Twitter exchange, digital leaders in the UK and US were critical of procurement in the public sector. Others make similar comments about their colleagues in Legal and Finance. I agree there is a problem but I don’t think it is entirely fair to single out these teams. The rest of us need to accept some of the blame because, generally, we get the commercial services we deserve.
There are many different definitions of Project Portfolio Management but at their core they share the concept of a business process for optimising a collection of projects and programmes. Projects are deliberately started, stopped, accelerated, delayed, split or merged to best achieve an organisation’s goals. Project Portfolio Management would appear to be a sensible management discipline so why would a CIO want to avoid it? The fundamental problem is that there are no IT projects and so the IT Project Portfolio should be empty. Nearly all projects labelled as IT explicitly include non-IT elements such as organisation or process changes and cannot achieve their objectives or realise benefits without these. Unfortunately, the remaining projects cannot be completed without risk or impact to the users or consumers of IT services and so also need to manage non-IT elements. Perhaps someone reading this blog will find an exception (in more than 20 years in this field I have not found any) but there will never be enough to justify an IT-only process.