What do IT departments do?

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This article applies Steven Alter’s Work Systems method and the emerging Open Group IT4IT Reference Architecture to describe what IT departments do. “A work system is a system in which human participants and/or machines perform work (processes and activities) using information, technology, and other resources to produce specific products/services for specific internal and/or external customers” – Steven Alter “The...

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Taking a portfolio view of IT risk

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All IT risks are not the same, but there are enormous benefits from bringing them together and treating them consistently. You need to treat them just like any other business risk, but also in ways that reflect the unique characteristics of IT. A portfolio approach gathers IT risks together for three reasons: completeness, connectedness and significance: Completeness: Some areas of IT risk may be overlooked in the priority given to the most...

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Beating IT project risks

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Projects have a special place in the IT risk portfolio for the obvious reasons that they are unitary, defined activities that can be observed directly, with budgets, start dates and target dates. Projects can fail totally, permanently and irrevocably – and also spectacularly. There are many others that are less than perfectly successful. Newspapers reveal the budget overruns, delays and terminations, usually in bald, budgetary terms. This...

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An effective IT Governance framework

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IT risks are large and pervasive. They can be large enough to bring an organization to the point of ruin, yet most organizations do not have systematic or comprehensive approaches to dealing with IT risk. For many organizations, the greatest sources of risk are their products and customers, but IT risk would be a strong candidate for third position. Defective or inappropriate products will doom the organization; customers that go broke, go away...

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Beating strategic and emergent IT risks

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Every CIO worth his or her salt says that they align their IT with the business – that the IT strategy matches the business strategy. The reality can be far away – some CIOs are not even sufficiently close to those determining the strategy to be advised. Further, business strategies may change very quickly; how does the IT react? Usually, with difficulty or not at all. On the other hand, in some organizations business strategy is driven by...

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Beating IT application risks

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You’ve done it! The project came in on time and on budget, with the users conducting all their tests and finding that all of the specified deliverables are up and running. Time to rest on your laurels? All the challenges are over? While we don’t want to sound like merchants of doom, the truth is that, from a business point of view, the project has only just started – the anticipated benefits now need to be experienced and this period is...

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Beating IT infrastructure risks

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In the good old days we had hardware and software, and for many small businesses this distinction is still workable. But over time the usefulness of this separation diminished. Operating systems software clearly belonged with the hardware and gradually more software came to be seen as part of the essential layers that enabled business applications, IT services, to be delivered. The separation of infrastructure and application is now more useful...

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Beating information asset risks

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When a family home is destroyed by fire or flood, if there has been no loss of life the greatest anguish will often be loss of the family photo collection. Yet their collection has no value to others. This information asset had a valuable role in the family existence (even confirming its existence!) and would have had an ongoing role. The cost of a duplicate set would have been acceptable, but impractical to establish and maintain. Storing the...

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Beating IT service continuity risks

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IT services underpin many important business processes in many organizations. IT is the way business is done and the failure of IT services brings business to a halt. The losses from outages or service level degradation can often be measured directly in terms of loss of revenue. In some cases it can be loss of life.

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