The opportunities to use technology in exciting new ways are seemingly endless, thanks to the rapid innovation and more digital capabilities than ever before. As a result, the demands on IT leaders’ time and attention are also increasing. This could easily result in a simple mistake sending IT costs spiralling upwards.
Getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring value to your organization is a simple thing to do but one of the biggest challenges of an IT leader’s jobs. Prior decisions may lead to technical debt. Mergers leave you with redundant and/or incompatible systems and user preferences sometimes trump IT best practices. However, the ongoing efforts to streamline, consolidate, and eliminate anything non-value-adding is still a battle well worth fighting.
But a big part of the effort is the orchestration of IT and relationship management with the lines of business. For instance, an initiative by Sentara is simplifying the organization’s application portfolio. It had 1,600 applications when the IT team started this process but now has 1,000 and their goal is to get to 800. The organization leaders say that the secret is to keep eliminating applications that are not useful over time since software providers are continually adding functions once only available as third-party plug-ins. They also explained their approach, saying when they buy a new system, they want to sunset a minimum of two old ones, and for the most part, that’s been successful.
Beyond redundant systems, one should also evaluate whether the business process the system supports is still relevant. Take for instance time tracking. Every professional services firm has people tracking time for certain purposes. They need to keep track of hours for auditing. If they are sending the report to people’s bosses and the managers are not doing anything in return, there’s no value now sending out that automated report every day.
For reasons like this, it’s important to regularly review roles and activities and ask if they provide value. People take on activities and tasks because they’re meaningful at some point in time but rarely do they say, ‘Let’s stop doing this.’