Taking Advantage of the IT Extended Network
The number of IT professionals expecting to see budget and head-count cuts grew significantly as more large-business decision-makers turn to cost-cutting measures in 2009 due to the failing economy. This has resulted to project postponements and headcount reduction. IT managers worldwide are scrambling for resources necessary for day-to-day operations and support without distressing IT service delivery. The good news is that IT managers don’t have to look further for help. The answer lies within the boundaries of the same organization it serves – resources are there and it could be plentiful.
During an IT project cycle, users and resource persons from the business are invited to participate. They are integrated into the project to work with the core IT and Process team. They assist in the design and validation of business processes. They conduct integral testing and facilitate training of end users. In larger initiatives, they ensure that business operation requirements are well represented.
I refer to this group as the Business Competence Team or BCT. Organizations call them in different ways: Process Teams, Power users, and Evolution Teams. BCT is composed of employees who have superior knowledge of the company’s processes and tools but do not necessarily report directly to the IT core organization. They are users from operations with extensive knowledge of applications and thus have certain privileged access to systems.
The BCT is IT’s extended network. They represent the business during project implementation and when they go back to operations, it is the other way around. At this point, they embody IT within the business operation they serve. Their knowledge of the business model and more advanced know-how of the application differentiate them from their peers. They are IT’s partners within the organization.
The challenge for IT managers is to take advantage of this extended network and tap into a readily available resource pool and fill in the void left by headcount reduction. It is cost effective and a perfect win-win situation for IT and the business. These are just some of the functions that BCT can perform:
- Support – Serve as resource persons of end users in operations and as active participants in the IT support network
- Enabler – Assure continuous system and process evolution by participating in process forums and evolution network meetings
- Trainer – Reinforce the standards of best practices and better use of application capabilities. Also responsible for continuously training end-users during system upgrades.
It is important that a program is established to enable the BCT team. This initiative should have a clear set of goals, expectations and rules. IT management should initiate this program and rally top management support. The strategic intent is to relentlessly pursue involvement of BCT members so they can participate in the evolution process as well as onsite assistance to peers. Naturally there are important factors to consider in establishing a Business Competence Team Program. I will discuss more about this in my upcoming article.