Avoid these obstacles and you'll also stay away from false starts and wasted time and money.
Process improvement and overall IT governance can make your IT organization transparent and align objectives to the corporate strategy--making governance a long-term cost-saving measure as well.
The road to reach these lofty goals, however, is pocked with gotchas that can cause false starts and waste time and money. Fortunately, many of the causes are preventable. Let's take a look at the top nine reasons that process improvement initiatives fail, and what can be done to prevent that.
Poor Expectation Setting
Before leaping into process improvements, it's critical to set realistic expectations for yourself, management, peers, and other stakeholders. A process improvement plan, like hardware and software buys, must have agreed-on requirements, configuration, and customization to be successful. It takes a long-term commitment, and unless your organization is willing to change, it will likely fail.
So one top priority must be to get everyone to understand that change is expected, and necessary. Take a hard look at your organization: Are you mainly reactive now? Where do you want to be?
Set realistic milestones for progress--you'll get more buy-in if you can show incremental improvements with deliverables or milestones in 90 days or less.
If you have baseline metrics to illustrate the time and effort needed to complete certain components, these are great starting points. If you don't have this data, it may be worth investing in a quick baseline to identify some quick hits that you can tackle first.
Lack Of Balance
When looking at a process improvement plan, the people and technology landscapes must be considered, too. Think of people, technology, and processes as a triangle: Focusing too heavily on one area will pull the others out of alignment. When designing a software tool, consider the processes dependent on it and the staff who will use it. We've seen many organizations focus on one of these areas, not see results, and then move on to focus heavily on another area. This approach isn't effective and often wastes money.
Some process initiatives are bottom-up, and others are top-down. In the end, however, process improvement affects many people, and without consensus, the initiative will fail. Resistance from one group or even an individual can impede progress.
It's critical to identify these risks before undertaking the project and try to mitigate the concerns that stakeholders have.
At the other end of the spectrum are organizations that try to build too much consensus and strive to get buy-in from people who'll never agree. In these cases, leadership needs to make tough choices about what to do with those individuals. Walking this tightrope is difficult for even the most seasoned leader.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE?
Business process outsourcing presents special challenges for IT. Find out what works.
Lack Of Automation
The IT environment of today has never been more dynamic, and the ability to automate process between systems is critical. A few years ago, there was a lot of energy around startup run-book-automation tools that helped organizations automate processes. However, customers' failure to buy these tools in large numbers took much of the steam out of this market. The concept is still a sound one: Automating complex IT processes helps reduce manual errors, meet compliance requirements, and track discrete tool costs.
Instead of point products, automation will likely find its way into core technology--vendors just need to hurry up and get there. The more manual the process, the more difficult it will be to implement and ensure accuracy. This is especially true in larger organizations. Any successful process improvement initiative must include the ability to automate as much as possible.
If a process can't be automated, look for ways to at least automate enforcement and compliance to ensure that the right checks and balances exist.
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