Don’t Force Fit Best Practices

The IT profession is replete with methodologies and best practices for all manner of activities. Project Management, Service Management, Solution Development, Business Analysis, IT Governance. The list is seemingly endless. All were developed to ensure repeatable successful practices could be adopted and implemented.

But simply understanding the practice or methodology does not ensure success. In a recent article, Karen Golden-Biddle suggests that we should examine the work in our organizations through the lens of best practices. We can use that discovery to generate new ideas, or in her words “even better practices”.

Best practices provide us with researched and tested practices designed to create success. But what of the nuances that define every individual organization? My experience has identified these three characteristics to be critical in understanding the IT Personality of your organization: Business Lifecycle, Risk Appetite, and Role of IT. You can use this IT Personality model to assess those elements you need to consider before implementing a new methodology or best practice.

IT Personality

IT PERSONALITY

Success requires you understand and implement best practices according to the IT Personality of your organization. Use these questions to build your understanding of your organization’s IT Personality.

Business Lifecycle

    What is the lifecycle of business asset creation?
    Does the business lifecycle match the IT asset lifecycle?
    Does the business lifecycle match the IT process lifecycle?

What kind of company are you? Is your company fast-paced, entrepreneurial, ready to drop a new product that hasn’t met its sales forecast? Are your systems and practices constraining time to market? If there is constant friction, chances are your lifecycles are not aligned.

Risk Appetite

    What is the business risk appetite?
    Does the business risk appetite align with the IT risk tolerance?

Do you understand the risk appetite of the company where we work? Have you developed an IT risk profile? Have you vetted it with the business for alignment?

Role of IT

    What role does IT play in the organization?
    Is it the core business?
    Does IT support the business?
    Is IT perceived as a necessary evil in the business?
    Is IT integral to the business (i.e. the business cannot function without its IT systems)?

The further IT is removed from the core business, the less strategic it will be perceived by the executive and board leadership. Don’t try to force a strategic relationship if IT is a utility in your company. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Use this model to create a picture of the IT Personality in your organization. Adapt your practice to consider your unique IT Personality. Don’t force-fit a best practice, model or procedure without understanding the nuances of your own organization’s IT Personality.

Note: The IT Personality Model is licensed by the author under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/.