I moved from management improvement work into information technology work (where I continue to practice management improvement). Many IT practices follow quality management guidelines well (agile software development for one).
I have found it far easier to design and provide software solutions than convince people to change their processes directly. I found it funny that as I delivered new IT solutions, in which was embedded a redesign of the process, those changes were often accepted without any significant debate. But the same changes that I tried to implement without a new IT solution had been impossible to make progress on (all sorts of reasons why it couldn’t be done were raised).
I strove, and believe I succeeded, to implement software solutions in a manner consistent with management improvement concepts. I started doing so in areas where I had been working and I was designing software tools based on my intimate knowledge of the system. And in doing so I tried to use an iterative approach (and the concepts of PDSA, though not really formally doing PDSA) involving those who were actually working in the business system. So I am not talking about just plastering in some IT solution from headquarters on the other side of the continent.
Too often organizations fail to invest enough in IT. The IT department is staffed merely to do what others request (and often not even provided the resources to do that). So then the executives can get what they need from IT. Others can get IT to respond if the manager can elevate the issue and explain how important it is that they get some support. But in general, all sorts of obvious improvement opportunities are wasted because the resources to carry them out are just not available.
In my opinion many organizations would benefit from increasing the resources to IT and shifting the focus from passive supplier to active participant in using information technology to meet business needs. This requires staffing IT with some people that are able to work with others to determine business needs and then determine the best IT solutions and then deliver those solutions. I have found many IT people are well suited to this role (though not all – which is fine those that prefer to focus on technical implementation can do so).
Another reason this often makes sense is how integral IT is to the functioning of the company. Expertise is technology is often very important today (and it is often missing). And getting your proactive quality experts working closing with IT will help them provide more value.
This post presents some thoughts in response to: Does anyone see value in merging Quality and Information Technology departments into a Business Process Management department?
Related: Software Supporting Processes Not the Other Way Around – Information Technology and Management – Using Quality Management Principles to Develop an Internet Resource by John Hunter, Jun 1999 (pdf)
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Hey, John! Great article.
Companies of all shapes and sizes should really pay attention to their IT processes and make sure to keep them updated at all cost. Many unfortunate events in the IT industry such as the 2014 Microsoft Azure crash occurred because someone failed to follow standard operating procedures.
Back at our company, we use a series of checklists that help us standardize processes and execute them to them to the end. A relevant article I would suggest for avoiding the IT mistakes would be this: https://www.process.st/it-process/. It helped us, maybe it will help some others 🙂
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