August 15th, 2007 (originally published)
Becoming a new IT manager, director, VP or CIO can be a daunting proposition. In some cases your career aspirations may lie in IT and in other cases you may be thrust into an IT role after being asked to lead the IT team. You may have limited technical experience or deep technical experience, extensive or limited business acumen. You may have been in IT for years but want to take a more strategic approach.
It is critical to understand the current state of affairs in IT in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the IT group. You will want to ensure that any changes you make do not jeopardize or undermine the strengths of the IT group. The identified weaknesses need to be analyzed, understood and a remediation plan will need to be created and implemented. The current state of affairs includes an analysis of people, process, systems and strategy. The appropriate questions for each category include the following:
People – Key Questions: Who comprises the IT team? (Employees, Contractors, Partners) What skills do they have? (Soft and Hard Skills) How long have they been in their position? What is the morale of the team? What skill gaps exist? What developmental training exists? How is the team structured? What are the core skills needed? What level of business acumen do they have? Are the IT job categories well defined - too many or too few?
Systems – Key Questions: What applications exist today? (CRM, PLM, ERP, etc) What infrastructure exists today? (storage, servers, network, etc) What systems are proprietary/3rd party? What is documented? What is the licensing situation? What is the business SLA for the critical systems? What system monitoring exists? Application/infrastructure? What are the current uptime statistics? What other metrics exist? What system and service support structure exists? What key data exists? What SSOTs exist? What EDW exists?
IT Operational Processes – Key Questions: What is the IT Portfolio Management Process? How are prioritization decisions made? How is the value of IT measured? What metrics are used? What Software Configuration Management, Software Development Life Cycle, Audit, Security, processes exist? What Change Mgmt methodology is followed? What is documented? How are the docs managed? What are the key IT operational processes? Is ITIL followed? What IT or BPO processes have been offshored? Business Processes – Key Questions: What business processes are critical? What are the RTO/RPO metrics? How would you map out those business processes? How are the business processes defined? Who owns those business processes? What is documented? What is the Business Continuity Strategy? What level of resiliency exists? What level of resiliency needs to exist for each business process?
Technical Strategy – Key Questions: How is the technology architecture aligned to the business strategy? What is the Technical Solutions Architecture and Framework? What is the Data Center Strategy? How is resiliency factored into the technical strategy? How is the Technical Strategy governed and managed? What is the technology stack? What key principles and policies are defined, documented and how are they governed? This is not an exhaustive list but it covers some of the key questions that are valuable to have answered during your first 90 days with a new team.