By John Charnovich, special to Local Tech Wire

Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of "Executive Insight" columns, a regular feature for Local Tech Wire as part of its partnership with the and . John Charnovich is founding partner of TecExecs LLC, a leading provider of technology executive services, best practice consulting and solutions that create superior IT performance.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Take a step back and look at your IT performance today. Are you satisfied with ROI, TCO and productivity? Are you measuring it? Do you have a holistic roadmap on how you operate and a clear governance model for investment priorities? Do you understand where IT resides on a maturity framework? If not, it is imperative you establish a leadership and IT operating framework to guide your decisions and to benchmark, measure and establish performance.

There is no silver bullet for best-in-class technology ROI for your company. There are, however, some well-understood and time-tested steps that can make a major difference in preparing your IT organization to be a leader within your company, take advantage of the economic recovery and to meet the demands of today’s global, fast-paced business environment. To start this journey, perform an “As Is” assessment against this framework and you will quickly identify the gaps and establish the short and long-term actions required to create superior performance. The following four pillars of a well-defined framework are areas that should be explored to build business credibility and achieve maximum technology ROI that is sure to gain acceptance from the executive suite.

A Strong Foundation is Critical to Build Upon

While it is tempting to react to the latest emerging trends and the nudging of CXO executives to move quickly, it is important for IT organizations to have a clear operating plan that will create the right critical building blocks. Just like the foundation in your home, this foundation is necessary to ensure your IT function has the crucial repeatability, reliability and operational stability to enable blocking, tackling and future expansion. Some fundamentals that should be considered are service frameworks, project/vendor offices (PMO), governance models, IT value chain mapping, change management of all systems, compliance, risk mitigation and operational performance metrics.

Rationalize for Effectiveness – Cost, Complexity, Simplicity

Once you have the right foundation in place, focus your attention on establishing a core model that defines and manages all your IT assets, including applications, software, infrastructure and integration. As business continually changes, your IT backbone and environment can become fractured and inefficient without an enduring process and consistent framework to rationalize and reduce IT costs and complexity. To maintain a streamlined and simplified IT structure, examine and apply TCO and core competency analysis, outsourcing, off-shoring and shared services models, enterprise architecture and integration strategies, consolidation planning and effectiveness metrics.

Business Enablement and Optimization

You now have a strong foundation that is rationalized and lean. Begin to align and engage with the business to help optimize your company and deliver capabilities that maximize the ROI, TCO and productivity of technology. Through your existing platform, you can add and build core enablement and optimization strategies and services to help drive business objectives. Several areas that should be investigated are business case ROI analysis, investment funding criteria, business partnership alignment and collaboration, performance measurement, enterprise process integration and business systems roadmap strategies (ERP, CRM, Supply Chain, etc.), and optimization metrics.

Differentiation

The final pillar of your operating framework to drive and maximize technology ROI in your company is competitive differentiation strategies. These topics will place your IT function at the pinnacle of superior performance and will create out of the box, innovative use of technology to propel and unleash business opportunities and competitive advantages. IT within your company will be tightly integrated with business strategy, have a seat at the table and experience the ultimate in collaboration and partnership. Engage your business executives and have a plan for emerging/disruptive technologies, decision intelligence analytics, technology enabled new business models, revenue analysis and opportunistic prototype modeling, and social networking strategies.

In conclusion, many companies believe they can attack business enablement, optimization or even competitive advantages without having a core foundation in place in their technology organization. They may experience brief successes, but cannot sustain performance without the critical building blocks and a rationalized IT organization, infrastructure and systems. Moving up and through the performance curve is not a race, but the methodical measurement, step function improvement and transformational change required via a well thought-out leadership and operating framework. Can you maximize your technology ROI and achieve superior IT performance for your company?

About the author: John Charnovich is a Founding Partner of , which delivers Interim Technology Executives, Mentoring and Search, Project Leadership, Strategic Business Alignment, Superior IT Practices and Product Software Excellence that maximizes ROI, TCO and Productivity for start-up, SMB and Fortune 500 enterprises. Previously, John was the Chief Customer Officer for Kineticsware Inc., a Global Consumer Goods Software Company, before its acquisition by Upside Commerce, and he has 25 years of technology leadership experience.