IT Clock Speed

IT Clock Speed: Getting Started

Today's matrixed, complex, and volatile business context makes speed increasingly important, but also presents several key challenges for IT. CEB surveyed over 3000 business partners and IT staff to uncover the key opportunities for IT to accelerate its overall clock speed:

1. Improve Intra-IT Handoffs

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Slow handoffs are the single most important cause of delay in 45% of activities within the IT delivery process. Handoffs occur where there are interactions between groups that exchange information, advice, approvals and/or work deliverables and are frequently slowed by mismatches in timing, information, or accountability. It is more important to improve the speed of handoffs between groups than to make each group faster by itself.

Leading CIOs recognize the importance of promoting IT-wide collaboration as it is in the "white space" between IT sub-functions where slow handoffs often occur. They use consistent language to describe IT's offerings, avoiding confusion between different groups' terminologies, and map IT handoffs to focus IT staff on overall IT speed.

2. Consolidate Interactions With the Corporate Center

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Handoffs present a problem not only within IT, but also when they occur with partners in functions in the corporate center (e.g. Finance, Procurement, Legal). In fact, 33% of the handoffs that can significantly delay IT delivery occur with these functions, frequently as a result of duplication of information or effort.

Progressive CIOs consolidate and coordinate responsibilities between IT and functions at the corporate center. To accelerate vendor approval and onboarding, for example, they use functions such as the IT vendor management office to act as facilitators, streamlining processes and decisions to reduce effort between IT and the corporate center.

3. Move Decision Making as Close as Possible to the Point of Value Delivery

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As technology decisions involve a greater number of stakeholders, the speed at which decisions are made can slow dramatically, impacting IT's ability to respond to business demand. In many IT organizations, even minor decisions require input from senior management or leaders, which can dramatically slow down IT's clock speed.

The most effective IT organizations recognize that while more senior stakeholders should still set strategic-level priorities, moving day-to-day decision making closer to the point of value delivery can both speed up decision making and increase IT's overall speed. They set guardrails for decisions by defining key metrics that services must adhere to, and use graphics to help IT and business partners visualize speed/cost/quality tradeoffs, allowing those decisions to be made at the IT-business interface.

4. Embrace Tiering and Self-Service

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Cumbersome, "one size fits all" processes can slow down IT's clock speed and increase inefficiency, frustrating business partners, who may not see the need for multiple reviews and rigorous methodologies.

The most progressive CIOs push their IT leaders to define tiers of engagement that includes a self-service option, reserving the highest level of rigor only for those projects that pose a significant risk. They create a culture where it is easy and acceptable for teams to use the most lightweight version of any process, and using the "full" version of a process is the exception.