The Business-Technology Weave

Apr 17 2010   12:49PM GMT

Determining the “Why” for Who Does What

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


Let’s examine an organization that is implementing a new Association Management System.  The senior director of the Expositions department needs to identify finance codes used for her department; these codes help track revenue and expense in relation to conference booths, hotel rooms, and services, etc.  Subsequently, the Chief Financial Officer needs to approve the codes.  The IT department can then test them – but ultimately Expo will even have the authority to edit and configure their own codes. 


The project manager with overall responsibility for managing the AMS project has asked the Expositions director to create the codes, submit them, and to then meet with the CFO and PM by a certain date in order to have an approved set of codes ready for IT’s input.  However, the Expo director has failed in this task, missing several adjusted dates for completion.  It is now incumbent on the PM to make this happen by setting a meeting for these two and ensuring that they do actually meet and hammer out the codes.  It matters not whether the Expositions director has valid reasons for missing the assignment or not.  It matters not whether the CFO has made himself available for consultation as requested.


It is the PM’s responsibility to move the process along in ensuring that the codes get created for input.  Regardless who owns each incremental task – the PM is the ultimate owner and will answer to each success.  In other words, the creation of the codes is an issue in the project management context.  The PM’s job is to bump along the Expositions Director’s (or delegate’s) creation of the codes – an important task supporting a project – the implementation of a new association management system.  The Expositions department is the task’s owner: The action of creating the codes is that department’s responsibility, with a shared component.  That was creating them in compliance with the Finance department’s oversight of all finance codes.  Let’s look at the  “why” of the task’s ownership by the Expositions department.


Part of the lag in the code creation turned out to be the Expositions Director’s insistence that this was IT’s responsibility.  However, IT is not the generator of the codes.  Nor does IT maintain them – or use them.  The syntax and format of the codes is defined largely by Finance.  Further, the Expo Department is intimately familiar with their (Exposition’s) financial tracking needs.  They know how many codes and definitions are needed in the conduct of their business.  They also know the character and number of codes that exist in the old AMS – for various conference booths, hotel rooms, services, etc.  Having IT survey a business situation that Expositions is responsible for is not a correct placement of effort or responsibility; nor is it efficient. 


IT effort in this regard would mean:  IT must perform the administrative drill of creating the codes for approval by Expositions.  This would engender a review, any necessary adjustments, and resubmittals with another Expo review.  This would be followed by IT’s arrangement for review with Finance.  This is inefficient:  Expo can drive and complete this process, in its entirety, in less time.  Otherwise, it takes IT people away from doing the things that only IT can do.  It engages them on a largely administrative task that should be assigned within the Expo department.  Expo should not require IT to maintain their finance codes any more than IT can expect Expo to maintain IT’s finance codes. 

Once Expositions creates their codes as tasked, they must let the project manager know they’re ready.  The PM can schedule a sit down with Finance for review of the codes.  Once Finances approves them, the PM (or a delegate) can train Expo on how to enter the codes into the AMS.  The Expo department should have the authority to maintain their codes in the AMS so as to match their authority in maintaining the codes in the business sense. 


Ask yourself here: who is responsible for knowing Exposition’s codes in order to exercise Exposition’s business?  It is within that party, or group, where action must transpire.  Today’s employment of “systems” or technology is not an excuse to defer ability, responsibility, or activity.  In any circumstance, an oversight authority from Business or Technology can simply ask: who is the relevant party that knows, or should know, the “business” of what is under consideration?  That party must be empowered in every possible sense so as to match activity to the root of knowledge.


In short: IT delivers the system – Business must utilize the system. 



Next:  Empower Business; Free IT…


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