Establishing quantifiable, standardized benchmarks which are then scored will allow senior business executives to begin assessing, and managing, their technology infrastructure as a whole.
Working with small and medium-sized businesses and helping manage their technology is as challenging as it is rewarding. Although every business is different, there are aspects common to all. For example, the business of an architect is different than a CPA, yet each must communicate, each must meet payroll, and each must be able to manage finances.
Technology is foundational to business and effectively leveraging its benefits is one of the keys to success in the marketplace. But many firms struggle with technology and many times this is due to a combination of poor decision making, shoddy implementation, and/or less than thorough management.
A costly myth.
Remember the old business adage, "You can't manage what you can't measure"? Entering that phrase into an Internet search engine reveals as many staunch proponents of the concept as impassioned dissenters. The primary disagreement is not about the basic truth of the statement, it is with its black & white application as a foundational business principle. Originating from the sage business thinker, W. Edwards Deming, it turns out that the quote is taken out of context.
If the name Deming is not familiar, perhaps a small history refresher is appropriate. Originally trained as an engineer, Deming was an advocate of repeatable processes and documented standards (operational definitions). At the end of WWII, Deming worked with Japanese business leaders in the rebuilding of their economy and is widely credited for providing the foundation for the global manufacturing and industry powerhouse that Japan would later become. Interestingly enough, Deming's original statement taken in its entirety is "It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth." Deming notes that there are many important aspects of business that cannot be measured but that must still be managed.
What about technology?
Is there a way to apply the "you can't manage what you can't measure" philosophy to the technology infrastructure of a business?
It turns out that the technology infrastructure of most companies share many common elements. All companies have a need for data storage, for data protection, for security, for virus defense, and so on. Good choices for technology investments combined with proper deployment and effective management will lead to efficient and productive employees. So, why not create a framework for identifying core components of a well-rounded technology infrastructure and the best practices necessary for effective management? Once identified and documented, these technical elements and management practices can provide the foundation for a scoring system that can be used to grade a firm's technology infrastructure.
Essentially, establishing quantifiable, standardized benchmarks which are then scored will allow senior business executives to begin assessing, and managing, their technology infrastructure as a whole.
The Technology Management & Leverage Index (TMLI)
The Technology Management & Leverage Index (TMLI) is a scoring methodology based upon these principles and measures the potential of the technology infrastructure to provide an operational return on investment. The TMLI is based on factors related to:
- management efficiency,
- implementation of standards,
- operational expense, and
- the potential to provide high levels of uptime and service availability.
A standards-based approach to technology procurement and the existence of well-conceived and repeatable management processes are also considered.
In addition to his famous management quote, Deming was dedicated to the concept of "continuous improvement" and many of his thoughts and ideas clearly reflect this commitment. By establishing a framework for measuring & scoring the technology infrastructure, the TMLI provides business leaders with a tool to manage this important aspect of their company. Further, regularly applying the TMLI and a commitment to systematic refinements provides the foundation for continuous improvement. And continuous improvement is how a business can take their performance to the next level.
What do you think?
Is a quantifiable method for scoring a firm's technology infrastructure important for business leaders? Provide your feedback in the comments section below. Click here for more information about W. Edwards Deming.