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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Using SFTA to Manage IT Portfolio to Stay in the Race, Win the Race, and Change the Rules

Summary: Using the concept of IT Portfolio Management, the de rigour enterprise topic of the day, find out how Accellion Secure File Transfer Appliance allows the IT team to stay in the race, win the race, and change the rules.


One of the hottest IT topics for large enterprises is portfolio management. It is the notion of managing IT projects as you would a financial portfolio. Similar to financial instruments of various flavors, some projects are very low risk but provide steady value to the organization while other projects are high-risk/high-return and, if done right, can catapult your business into a higher playing level. The key insight is to manage and balance a collection of IT capabilities like a portfolio so that you take care of immediate needs as well as sowing seeds for the future.

While the concept is fairly intuitive, just like managing financial portfolios, the challenge is knowing how to balance the portfolio with the right amount of “steady/value projects” and “high risk/high return projects.”

A recent article in The McKinsey Quarterly entitled Divide and Conquer: Rethinking IT Strategy” by David Craig and Ranjit Tinaikar (free registration required) provides advice on how to segment the projects in your IT portfolio.

The article classifies IT projects in terms of their value to an organization. The low risk, steady value projects are known as stay in the race projects. These are the kinds of things that you simply must do in order to remain competitive. Enterprise email system would be a banal but obvious example.

The next level of project is called win the race. This kind of project will place you ahead of competitors, at least until they manage to catch up. An example of such a project is a customer service tool that allows a service agent to immediately get a holistic view of a client's history.

Finally, the highest level of IT project is the change the rules type of project where you do business in an entirely different way. The end-to-end integrated inventory control system between Wal-Mart and its vendors that took nearly ten years to develop is a much feted example.

So, to borrow a financial jargon, what is the recommended asset allocation for the IT portfolio? The McKinsey report offers these guidelines for your IT budget:

Stay in the race projects: 30%-60%
Win the race projects: 10%-60%
Change the rules projects: 10%-40%

As the McKinsey report puts it, up to 60% of the IT budget “should focus on maintaining and enhancing basic IT services, including core business applications, systems to meet regulatory demands, e-mail, and Web services. These are low-risk functions necessary for staying in the race.”

Secure file transfer is just such a core application. Be it a security and compliance issue, a global multi-location collaboration and communication issue, or keeping virus and other digital cooties out issue, Accellion SFTA has been field-proven to be one of the favorite tools in the proactive IT's arsenal for meeting the Stay in the race needs.

But what if you want to push the envelope toward winning the race? Can SFTA help you do that as well? [Expletive deleted], Yes! As noted by customers in verticals such as Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), Healthcare and Research Institutions, and law firms, Accellion offers a solution that allows them to re-align their business processes to better meet customer needs and improve internal efficiencies.

As for the changing the rules capabilities, Accellion will soon offer API libraries that can integrate your secure file transfer processes into other enterprise applications and processes. Similar to the ability to quickly prototype and deliver services for innovative financial products as cited in the McKinsey report, I can already see an explosion of different collaborative processes within an organization and amongst multiple parties that has been nearly impossible before as a result of the API tools.

So, introducing a platform solution that helps to address your Stay in the race, Win the race, and Change the rules needs - Accellion Courier Secure File Transfer Appliance (SFTA). Say, maybe we not charging enough for these boxes...


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