IT outsourcing – selecting the ‘best’ infrastructure model

This article was published on CEO Online a month or two ago, and I did promise I would post it here eventually.  And as I am of course absolutely certain that there is a raft of readers out there who would like to see the full article on the basis of that promise (delusionment is a wonderful thing) I am posting the article here.

In order to keep us all sane, you will need to click through to see the full article.

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Building IT Value – the IT Val Framework

Catching up with Tony Hayes – currently Chairman of the Information Technology Governance Institute’s ‘ITGI Committee’ (they’re the ones that release COBIT) – recently, Tony mentioned the new Val IT Framework that ITGI has been working on to develop as a complementary framework to COBIT.  Tony happens to live in Brisbane where he is currently Executive Director of the Performance and Service Delivery Commission for the Queensland Government, after a long (long) stint with Queensland Health. 

The Val IT Framework is designed to provide a frameweork for realising value from the investment in information technology.  Currently, the framework has three components to it, all recently released:  Val IT Framework, Val IT Business Case, and Val IT ING Case Study. 

Quoting from the opening chapter, COBIT is considered to be the means by which the value from IT is delivered, whilst Val IT is considered the end product in measuring and optimising business value from information technology:

“Val IT now adds best practices for the end, providing the means to unambiguously measure, monitor and optimise the realisation of business value from investment in IT. Val IT complements COBIT from a business and financial perspective and will help all those with an interest in value delivery from IT.” (Val IT Framework p6)

I am not sufficiently versed in the Val IT Framework just yet, but if it is anything like previous ISACA publications it is a worthwhile exercise.  For any medium-sized organisation, you could do worse than investigate the framework in terms of your ICT Service Delivery.  There is an entire program of work in the field that the Val IT Framework is delivering upon, the initiative is built around Benchmarking and Empirical Analysis, Technique Guides and Cases, and Enterprise Exchange and Community Influence.

If you are in business, spend a significant amount on information technology (and sometimes wonder where it all went), this is a must-read for either yourself or someone in your organisation.

Data Quality Metrics and IT Governance

Before Easter I facilitated a workshop on Data Quality Metrics and IT Governance for Ark Group.  The handout and introduction to the topic is attached here:  Data Quality Metrics and IT Governance. 

There is a companion workbook to this workshop.  The biggest comment I can make is that data quality requires an investment and it’s not something you can wake up and do the next morning – you have to walk before you can run (hence, the plethora of maturity and capability models such as those promoted by ISACA (COBIT).

Viva la ITIL Revolution!

Australia’s CIO Magazine has recently (well, yesterday) published an article entitled “ITIL Power” by Ben Worthen. This article is a relatively practical and in-depth review of the capabilities of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and when (and when not) to use it.

It’s worth comparing and contrasting this perspective with the view from Technology Executive Club in an article by Alcyone Consulting regarding the synergies between CObIT and ITIL.

As I say, ITIL and CObIT are good ways of making information technology “boring”, which is a good thing for business!


Good Practice, Best Practice, Leading Methods

You say tomato, I say tomato (say, that doesn’t work so well in print). A rose by any other name is just as thorny, that much is certain at least, and there are often objections to the term ‘best practice’. Although it is meant to capture practices that are generally accepted by everyone else, and that the ‘man on the Bondi tram’ might adopt if he thought about it, there are some who consider that ‘best practice’ is code for ‘doing what our competitors did five years ago’. And certainly there are some aspects of this – that ‘best practice’ is not necessarily ‘best’, it is just what everyone else is doing.

Still, it’s a good place to start, surely, and if it isn’t a place where competitive advantage can be gained (even unsustainable competitive advantage) for your business, why bother reinventing the wheel?

I note this recent article at NetworkWorld that discusses ITIL and COBIT, and discusses the two of them as being complementary, and in fact that they can result in more returns when coupled together. Certainly the news that 75% of IT Managers in the United States have plans to implement ITIL, or at least are thinking very strongly about it. When you check the fine print, of course, you realise that it isn’t that scientific a study (all those attending a conference on IT Service Management) but it probably provides some interesting flavour of what’s going on in the real world.