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Getting IT Back on Track Again

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Like a train maintaining a rigorous schedule to deliver people and large volumes of cargo on time and at the proper destination, information technologies can help businesses consistently conduct everyday operations with efficiency and effectiveness.

Trains tend to set the standard on efficiency and effectiveness. As long as all of the combined efforts of the engineers and conductors are in synchronization with each other, they are aware of any potential railway problems, and they are properly supported to perform their maintenance duties. If not, the train may still arrive at its destination, but it could be a few hours (or days) delayed. Consequently, a delay at one destination for this train will translate into arrival delays at several other destinations and will impact other passengers that may have associated dependencies. For businesses, operations must also perform with the same expectations of efficiency and effectiveness in order to deliver quality results consistently and on time.

It’s easy to say that organizations around the United States and the world have benefited tremendously with the advent and integration of information technologies. Or have they? How many organizations have properly “benefited” from information technologies? Based upon my own observations, many are simply using information technologies such as the Internet, email, various applications, databases, servers, and mobile devices because of obvious convenience factors. They are the organizations who are not using or exploring the full potential of the IT systems and staff they have invested in.



In order for any organization to realize the true value of information technologies, for both systems and personnel, they need to properly assess the strategic efforts and the value-generating deliverables that IT produces. To quantify the impact of IT upon the business environment we must take a somewhat scientific approach. Businesses generally make decisions and formulate strategies based upon what they can observe and measure. The following are two critical assessment targets that must be included in this strategy. 

  1. Alignment. Are the activities and efforts of IT aligned with the strategic objectives and goals of the organization itself? 

  2. Congruency. Are the activities and efforts of IT generating, contributing toward, or defining operational efficiency and effectiveness?

As a business owner, you might be thinking that alignment would not be an issue in your environment. After all, your business has computers that work is performed on which is also directly observable. However, many organizations completely overlook some basic simple facts. The efforts of an IT department may be on a completely different “train track” than the one the organization is on. The IT department may supply and support information technologies that employees can use to perform work on; however, IT may be focusing its efforts on technologies or strategies that lack the same vision or needs of the entire organization. The end result of an alignment “derailment” is that information technology directly influences and shapes the objectives and goals of the business, rather than the business determining the objectives and goals of IT.

As for congruency, we need to differentiate between efficiency and effectiveness. People commonly think of the two words as meaning the same thing; however, they do not. To be efficient means that the efforts of a person, a group, or a system is well-organized and proficient without wasting time or resources. To be effective means that the efforts of a person, group, or system produce intended and desired results with measurable value which directly help the organization succeed.

From this business correlation model, we can extrapolate the following:
If the train arrives with all passengers and cargo at the correct destination on time, the train:

  • Is in alignment 

  • Is efficient 

  • Is effective

If the train arrives with all passengers and cargo at the INCORRECT DESTINATION on time, the train:

  • Is NOT in alignment

  • Is efficient 

  • Is effective

If the train arrives with all passengers and cargo at the correct destination LATE, the train:

  • Is in alignment 

  • Is NOT efficient 

  • Is effective

If the train arrives with MISSING PASSENGERS AND CARGO at the correct destination on time, the train:

  • Is in alignment 

  • Is efficient 

  • Is NOT effective

If the train DOES NOT ARRIVE with all passengers and cargo at the correct destination on time, the train:

  • Is NOT in alignment 

  • Is NOT efficient 

  • Is NOT effective

The bottom line: Are the activities and efforts of the IT systems, IT staff, and employees properly supporting the efforts and strategies of your organization in an efficient manner with effective results? If not, or if you do not know, it is time for your business to have an independent IT organizational assessment performed. Proper review of the critical functions and components of your IT department and the technologies utilized by your organization can help identify veiled weaknesses and threats, and it can help get IT back on track again. You may even want to know whether or not your IT policy, or IT budget, is aligned with and supportive of your organization’s goals and strategies.

About the Author

Jason Cox received his MBA with Distinctions from Keller Graduate School of Management, where he was as National Kagen-Rollhaus MBA Capstone Award Nominee. Soon after completing his MBA program, Jason, along with his wife Cindy and their three children, moved to Surprise, AZ, to take advantage of new opportunities. Jason joined the BVA team in 2005. Jason’s extensive technical proficiencies include Novell NetWare 3.x/4.x/5.x/6.x/OES Server, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0/2000 Server/2003 Server, Various Linux distributions, Solaris 2.5/2.6 and VMS, TCP/IP, IPX, DNS, DHCP, HTTP, POP3, SMTP, FTP, McAfee, Norton, Trend Micro Virus, Solutions, Microsoft Windows 3.11/9.x/NT 4.0/2000/XP/Vista, Microsoft Active Directory Services, Novell eDirectory/NDS Services, Novell ZENworks and IDM.

About BVA, Inc. Since 1993, BVA has been working with clients, large and small, local and worldwide, to realize the value of their technology investment. BVA’s approach to technology is to improve the quality of clients’ products and services and, as a result, their bottom line. BVA tailors its services to meet the individual needs of clients. From proactive support services, consulting services, project management and technology leadership, BVA strategically works with businesses to help them facilitate growth by utilizing information technology. BVA partners with industry leaders, such as Microsoft, Novell and Cisco, to deliver the superior quality of service clients recognize and respect.


On the net:BVA, Inc.
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Popular tags:

 business environments  United States  objectives  potential  assessments  applications  organizations  Internet  trains  mobile devices


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