No matter what the business function, inside IT or in any other part of the business, we can't help you improve it until we know what "improve" means.

Every business function has six dimensions of optimization ... six possible meanings for "improve." The starting point for improving organizational effectiveness is ranking them in order of importance for each business function targeted for attention. The six dimensions are:

  • Fixed cost – the cost of turning the lights on before any work gets done.
  • Incremental cost – the cost of processing one more item.
  • Cycle time – how much time elapses processing one item from start to finish.
  • Throughput – how much work the function churns out in a unit of time … its capacity, in other words.
  • Quality – the absence of defects.
  • Excellence – flexibility, the ability to tailor to individual needs, and the presence of cool stuff.
For the most part, optimizing any one of these leads to trade-offs with some of the others. That's a complicated story. If you're interested in the details, you'll find them described in Chapter 3 of Bare Bones Change Management.