In my work I interact with many business-centric and technology-centric individuals. In most cases I am working with teams that include subject matter experts (SME), project managers, business analysts, architects, developers, IT infrastructure administrators, quality assurance personnel and users. Each of these roles is important, but not sufficient, to delivering a successful project. Beyond these roles, successful projects also rely on a host of best practices including strong business sponsorship, effective scoping, and good communication. However, one area that can influence the effectiveness of a systems-based solution is the business management’s understanding of information systems (IS).
Many business leaders have a great depth of knowledge in terms of the operation of their business. Using Michael Porter’s Value Chain to model a business, I have found that these leaders are thoroughly versed in the details of their primary activities. However, when providing leadership for projects involving IS, they need more. A solid business-centric understanding of IS as a key supporting activity for their business is essential. The question is, “what constitutes a business-centric understanding of IS?“ Here are my thoughts on that topic.
Managers need to understand: 1) the types of information systems that are available; 2) the prerequisites for effectively leveraging information systems; 3) the necessary steps to install and operate information systems; and 4) the appropriate type of user for the various information systems. At the core of each of these is the fact that a manager must assure that the information systems being leveraged or planned are supported by an information systems strategy that is tied to the business strategy.