For the CIO, often lost in the discussions of cloud, mobile, data and social is the discussion about Time to Value for IT. Time to Value (TtV) is the time between a business request and the initial delivery of that request. The goal of any business is the minimize TtV in order to realize some level of business value as quickly as possible. There is a direct correlation between IT agility and fast TtV because a business can do very little nowadays without considering and including their IT systems.

A CIO has a number of ways to accelerate TtV.

1. Agile development

Historically IT teams used a “Waterfall” development model but this has been significantly replaced with an agile development model in many companies. Be careful that it is a true agile methodology and not anarchy masquerading as agile.

2. Leading with Architecture

A solid focus on enterprise architecture provides flexibility and options beyond the immediate business need. A bit of upfront dialogue goes a long way in avoiding risks. Leading with architecture includes business process and capabilities along with application, data, security and infrastructure architecture.

3. Talent

Having a world-class team that has deep and broad knowledge of the business helps increase suggested options as well as accelerate delivery. Make sure that you are constantly investing in up-leveling your team. What is especially important is their understanding of mobile, security, cloud and data architectures.

4. Documentation

The ability to review an up-to-date document of business process, policies and systems accelerates knowledge dissemination, ramping resources and baselining a team with common understanding of how things work. Documentation ultimately improves the quality of the deliverable.

5. Avoiding capital purchases

Buying equipment like servers, storage or network gear takes time (sometimes many months) which is why IT organizations look to balance OpEx models vs CapEx models. Leverage cloud solutions when possible.

6. Avoid programming by leveraging pre-built apps and software

Writing code takes time, always has bugs and requires resident experts to extend and maintain. Stick with OOTB (out of the box) functionality by asking whether customization is really going to be a strategic differentiator for the company. Develop custom apps for the capabilities that truly differentiate your company.

7. Simplify system integrations

The simpler the connection between your systems and processes, the faster you can move. Retire point-to-point integrations with a common cloud messaging bus.

TtV - the faster you deliver some component of the business request, the faster the business function can identify whether there is true value in what they have asked for. Let’s face it, the best ideas do not always produce solid business value - there is a certain percentage of hits and misses. The ability to get something quickly into the hands of the business not only builds credibility for IT, but also allows the business to determine whether the new capability adds value or not. If there is value, then determine the next iteration - otherwise, stop and scrap the idea. Think big, start small, move fast.