building right systems

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This isn’t depressing. People still like to eat every day.

Informations systems are another example. Although Information Technology changes by the hour, the methods for successfully using IT to inform an organization’s planning and control stays the same:

  1. Name the players and the games. Identify broad areas of functional responsibility at the corporate level. Name the one individual other than the President or Executive Vice President who is most closely involved with control of each function. Determine with him what are his responsibilities to Corporate and to divisional organizations. He is a Prime User.
  2. Prepare the stadium. Ask each Prime User what are his information needs to support his responsibilities. (These are distinct and separate concepts.) Evaluate with him the validity of the relationships between his responsibilities and his information needs. A real information need is a requirement for data which he can use (it is relevant), will use (it is timely, correct, and in meaningful format), and must use (it is not extraneous) to discharge his responsibilities.
  3. Agree on the rules. Correlate the disparate information needs of the Prime Users. Determine inter-relationships where common data base(s) can meet various information needs.
  4. Develop a winning strategy. In intensive, brief skull sessions specify the corporate information needs and the possible sources of information. Use a Black Box approach to processing design; that is, don’t design the process at all but design the information requirements and assume there is a Black Box which can process anything.
  5. Make a game schedule. Select which information needs will be met first. Consider these factors in selection:
    • Profitability. How much is it worth (not, at this point, how much will it cost.)
    • Usefulness. How many information needs will it meet, and how well?
    • Ease. How tough is it to get the advantages, and how long will that take?
  6. Choose the teams. Assign necessary people to develop selected systems. Make everyone aware that an information system is any organized method – manual or electronic, centralized or segmented – for meeting one or more related corporate information needs.
  7. Play ball. Develop, approve and implement systems. Observe rules of review and cost consideration (these are elements of scoring the game), and keep the game active enough to hold its fans’ attention. Implement often and well. Be demanding in the pacing and timing.
  8. Keep score. Evaluate all systems for effectiveness before and after implementation.
  9. Win! Identify, demand, obtain, and use required information to improve profits and growth.

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