Fast food is cheap, quickly delivered and immediately satisfying.
Does your organisation focus on the immediate gratification and short term IT demands?
Is your organisation demanding IT solutions that are quick and cheap that satisfies the immediate organisation’s desire/appetite?
Has the speed and convenience of purchasing cloud based software as a service solution replaced IT governance?
Has the number of applications in your organisation grown and you have 100’s where 20 would do?
Is your organisation’s demand for creating new applications or resource silos unabated?
Is the business tempted by the salesman or the latest trends with the sizzle or taste of a new product?
Does your business tell you the application that they want and they want it now?
Your organisation might be a Fast Food IT Junkie!
I am not talking about Agile rapid development approaches here. There is a difference between Fast Food and Food Fast, which can still be done in a controlled and constructive manner. I am using the “Fast Food” analogy to illustrate some behaviours in organisations, in the governance of IT applications and architecture that lead to inefficient workflows, increasing worker frustration and block improvements in the organisation.
As organisations grow larger, IT acquisition and change will increasingly become a challenge. While growth is healthy and sometimes having to address immediate business demands is not a bad thing, this must be regulated otherwise a continual behaviour for this Fast Food Junk type of IT behaviour will lead to:
Obesity – procuring and consuming new IT solutions leads to an ever increasing portfolio of applications, and silos of data, additions and more modules or customisation. Resulting in multiple, disconnected and unsecure information silos.
Clogged arteries /organs– the data that flows around the organisation and systems used are increasingly complex. Alterations to systems are poorly designed and it becomes more difficult to maintain in line all the different systems, lots of interfaces exists and information flow and reporting becomes increasingly difficult. Data silos turn into roadblocks that stand in the way of delivering better customer service
Brain – all the changes applied or applications used might not be known or understood, as different things have been added/applied then forgotten about once the immediate need was served, you don’t fully understand how an application is used is the organisation anymore. Undocumented or poorly documented change is allowed, and any change documentation is disposed of or forgotten once the work is done.
Poor Fitness level – the organisation has to work increasingly harder to maintain current operation, with processes having manual work arounds, tasks to cope with different system inputs and more data reconciliation work between the different systems. Excess applications and overlapping IT lead to inefficient workflows that increase worker frustration.
A “fast food” approach to governing applications results in multiple, disconnected and unsecure information silos that increase support and infrastructure costs, increase the risks of security and data protection issues, impact employee morale and hurt the customer experience. A continued “fast food” approach to IT will begin to hold back nearly every part of your organisation, prevent growth and can lead to an organisational “heart attack” unless you change your way.
A Balanced Approach for IT
You need an approach for controlling chaos, removing redundancy and building a more flexible, future proof IT platform for your business. To fight the “Fast Food” approach to IT I have the following points:
Define a Strategic IT approach:
Fight the sprawl of applications and change by having a unified plan for IT.
In today’s IT Apps rule the day. There is an app for everything these days. Set guidelines for purchasing solutions this may be in the form of IT principles, a technical reference model and/or technical standards.
Build an IT strategy that you need to give you a flexible deployment for the most strategically adaptable and scalable infrastructure moving forward.
You don’t work with a clean slate but have a range of legacy systems. A lot of apps today are merely an interface to access information from and make changes to applications that live in the data center, or apps that provide specific services such as document management, workflow, or content analytics etc. We recommend a componentised platform strategy that can bridge present systems and future needs. You can define apps and tools as different component services that forms your IT architecture. The service components can run in local data centres and in other cases, on cloud services or as a part of Software‐as‐a‐Service (SaaS) platform.
Improve the Mass Data model:
For your business users, accessing information is like the lifeblood. You need direct access versus one with several stops at multiple systems that force users to hunt and search across repositories to fulfil a customer request. Define content services that gathers all of the organisation’s content in one place. Sharing data through a common system neutral solution makes it far easier to plug in other systems. It’s like a direct connection to customer satisfaction. Ramp up productivity with anytime, anywhere information access. A system that has content always within reach, even on a mobile device, keeps business moving.
Consolidate on Core:
Identify the most mission critical business processes and identify the applications or components that support the most mission-critical information. Then, create a proactive roadmap that consolidates the business processes onto your core system components.
It will be better to invest in the core platform rather than an alternative solution, even if this may take longer or cost more, as in the long run it is better to concentrate your IT support and resiliency investment on core system components. This can help you minimise downtime, maintain organisation continuity and ensure customer service isn’t compromised should a system fail.
Business Directors collaboration:
Just like dieting you need will power to stick with this. In other words the senior business leadership must resist the “Fast Food” IT and make “healthier” choices.
Help them see the connection between IT sprawl and the issues of productivity and accessibility they may be facing. Understand together, and agree on the benefits that come from componentised and symphonised systems.
This is perhaps the most important aspect as without a Business “will” your efforts to reduce the “Fast food” consumption and stop the IT sprawl of multiple systems and platforms will be impossible.
These points will help provide a “fit” IT organisation that balances the need to maintain those business‐critical, keeping‐the‐lights‐on, stability‐seeking applications while also providing an environment that has the business agility (the ability for IT to adjust to meet new demands) and the velocity (the speed by which new change or services can be delivered) much better than the “Fast Food” IT approach over the long term.
I hope you like my fast food analogy and found this article interesting please comment on other aspects of IT application architecture and governance?
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