How to Increase IT’s Value to the Business

Last week I was the keynote speaker at an event for a services organization in an energy company. I spoke on the topic of adding more value to the business. This is an important topic for IT, because it’s very easy for your organization to see itself as a cost center (or to not think about it at all).

As a CIO, you need to get every one of your IT employees to understand what it means for IT to be adding value, and what it means to them personally, in their job, to be adding value.

If your employees do not understand how the business makes money, what it sells, and how IT impacts profit, you will have a hard job leading an organization that is seen as adding value to the business.

When that happens your credibility as a CIO suffers and your job gets harder.

So what adds value?

How will your team add more value? What will they do specifically? Just saying, “Add more value,” doesn’t tell them what to do differently when they get to work in the morning.

Here are some ideas and challenges you can give your IT organization to develop a more business and value-focused view of their job and their role in the company.

Who uses my work and what do they need most?

  • Who are the consumers of each piece of work that I do?
  • Do they still use it? Do they still need it?
  • Do they pass it on to others? What do those people need?
  • Can the content I deliver be modified to be more useful or relevant?
  • Can the manner in which I deliver it be improved to be more useful or relevant?

Note : Find out the answers to these questions and stop producing work no one cares about!

I know so many IT organizations that are over-busy delivering services no one uses, or delivering unnecessarily high service levels on too many things because they fail to understand the business drivers for which few services matter most, when, and why.

Don’t burn up your time and resources on things that no one cares about. Do actively learn what they find most useful, and tune what you deliver to be more valuable based on those findings.

What business outcomes does my work drive?

  • What is the business outcome that happens as a result of my producing this work?
  • How does my work impact profit?
  • Does my work impact quality, innovation, efficiency, competitiveness, cost reduction, process improvement, sales effectiveness, etc.?
  • Can I tune my work to create a better or different business outcome?

Note : If you can’t connect your work to a business outcome, you are in danger of being irrelevant.

If you are not relevant you are not adding enough value. You need to stay educated on the most important outcomes the business is driving and make sure IT stays connected with or ahead of them.

Even for the parts of IT that are strictly a cost center providing an internal service, you need to find ways to improve efficiency or usefulness. That impacts profit and that adds value.

What does my work cost?

  • How much does it cost the company for me to do this work?
  • Can it be done for less?
  • What happens to my work after it’s delivered?
  • What are the downstream costs of the things that I do?
  • Who else does my work cause work or costs for?
  • Is there a way to make my work more efficient for others?

Note : Improve the business outcomes of your work, not just delivering the work.

Always find ways to take out cost. If you produce 50 reports, maybe 20 higher quality reports would do? (Everyone will like 20 reports better than 50 anyway!)

If you do things manually or in a chaotic reactive mode, how many people are impacted by this? How can you create a process to streamline the work, make it less complicated, and require fewer touch points, questions, or follow-ups?

What has changed?

  • What has changed in the market since I started this job?
  • What has changed in our customers’ business since I started this job?
  • What has changed in our competitors’ business since I started this job?
  • What has changed inside our company since I started this job?
  • Do these changes require a change in the way my job is done?

Note : If you are not evolving your job, you will no longer be qualified when the game changes.

Or you will be doing the wrong job, and your job will get eliminated. Be the one to recommend changing your job to meet the evolving business needs, not the other way around.