MaxTrade Company: Strategy and Governance

IT strategy and Governance

MaxTrade is a trading company which involves itself with various trading services. The services offered by MaxTrade Company to its clients include brokerage which was the main core of the business at its startup, research, and analysis of research data. MaxTrade Company developed from its startup business function of being a brokerage firm and developed into six divisions which include research and analysis, banking investment, institutional trading and other business units that are involved in wealth creation by providing financial services.

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For MaxTrade company to integrate all its business functions, it must come up with an efficient and modern information technology platform so us to reap maximum profits in a competitive business world. Most companies and organizations have nowadays embraced technology in their routine operations to improve efficiency in their production by reducing the cost of production and improving accuracy and accountability in their operations. MaxTrade Company should not be an exemption in embracing modern information technology platform if it is to survive in the modern competitive business world.

Efficient technological systems must use complex portfolio management which represents a suitable environment for efficient management of technology coupled with objective innovation. The research done at Maxtrade Company reveals that the company has different technological processes and other strategic considerations in its use of information technology. To analyze the portfolio management of technology usage at Maxtrade Company, several processes which include identification, selection, acquisition, exploitation, and protection were identified as the critical processes used in the company.

The company, despite its main objective being to make money according to its founder Bruce Robinson, it lacks long-term plans which are required to sustain its business operations. The portfolio management of MaxTrade Company will comprehensively analyze how organized initiatives, technological services, and projects can be quantified to measure the impact of information technology in the company. Identification of technology mechanisms and systems which are already in the company must initially be done.

This entails a comprehensive analysis and understanding of the current information technology systems that are in place at Maxtrade Company. The identification process enables one to establish how information technology systems are utilized and whether they are of benefit to the company (Stewart, 2008). Important technological platforms in the company are retained at this level whereby obsolete or nonefficient technological applications are identified to be dropped at a later stage. Project assessment and reassignment is also done at this stage.

After the identification of gaps and shortfalls in the identification stage, the company selects the technological projects which are of benefit to its operations. The selection that is part of the portfolio methodology is innovative to the current technology systems whereby systems which are of benefit to the company should be retained or improved to perform complex tasks. Superfluous technological projects and systems which are not in line with the company objectives and goals are terminated at this level before they prove to be expensive to the company.

Discovering new information technology projects is also done at this stage to cater for problems that might not be addressed by the current technological systems, (Maizlish and Handler, 2005). The identification and selection stages of portfolio management enabled the fact finder in MaxTrade Company to identify the main cause of redundancy in information technology in the company. The company had wasted a lot of money due to uninformed poor decisions. Money was wasted in the form of buying irrelevant software, servers, software licenses and lack of consistency with the vendors which resulted in frequent changing of information technology systems.

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According to Kaplan, (2005), many companies have adopted portfolio management as a strategy for managing information technology services and projects whereby portfolio management facilitates restructuring and acquisition of initiatives. Acquisition process gets hold of information technology projects that are of benefit to the company. It also caters for the purchase of new information technology systems which are meant to manage complex company operations. In this process, MaxTrade Company adopts new information technology projects after considering various business units and chains of production.

This process is facilitated by analyzing various sets of investments, strategic values, and benefits of various business units. This is done after getting business units at MaxTrade Company on board as business unit heads have a lot of independence in running their units because of the profits they make for the company. Information technology acquisition involves acquiring of new operating systems that can interwork in various company segments, upgrading the entire information technology department and reconfiguring the company network. It also entails project restructuring according to the new information technology platforms and objectives of the company. This process at MaxTrade Company should be continuous whereby efficient Information technology services and projects should be acquired throughout all the time to avoid redundancy in this department.

The outcome of the acquired Information technology projects should carefully be analyzed and maximum benefits reaped from the new information technology projects at MaxTrade Company. The portfolio management team should come up with ways in which the company could maximize its profits through proper utilization of the newly adopted projects. All levels of workers in the company should be involved in the exploitation of technological projects whereby acquired projects should make their work easier and more efficient hence boosting the worker’s morale that is lacking at MaxTrade Company.

This should be done by talking to all people in the company by the portfolio management team by including even vendors and customers to get a clear view of how operations can be improved by acquiring new information technology projects. The acquired projects should have interfaces including input and output and methods of self-examination or reports which should clearly outline the benefits achieved so far after the restructuring of the Information technology department at MaxTrade Company.

The action plan which acts as the basis of efficient information technology project implementation should be established and protected. Protection of action plans and information technology projects established should be emphasized as the acquisition of these projects involves a lot of restructuring and development within the company (Levine, 2005). Some of the people at MaxTrade Company will not be receptive at the idea of doing things differently by acquiring new and efficient information technology systems; there might be sabotaged by such people in the development of systems or provision of wrong information that is relevant in the development of efficient information technology systems.

All these possible risks which might stall the establishment of new Information technology projects and completion of already existing projects at MaxTrade Company needs to be identified and dealt with. Painful and hard decisions must be made when implementing information technology portfolio management, for example, the case study at MaxTrade Company revealed that there were 932 projects on its records which were thought to be ongoing. The number of information technology personnel to develop these projects was just 152 which was not sufficient to develop these projects and complete in time. The information technology personnel morale was at its minimal as they could not say no to new projects before the completion of the already existing projects. All these factors must be put in place to deliver new business functionality.

The business environment at MaxTrade Company must be examined for the portfolio management to identify viable existing information technology in the company. The company management must establish existing opportunities that can be optimized by the use of information technology in the company. There must be an understanding of proven forms of information technology application areas in the company and decisive actions taken on the ways to retain or improve such technological applications. The business environment at MaxTrade Company does not support the implementation of all the 932 projects as stated in the case study.

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This is proven by the limited number of information technology personnel who can’t handle all the projects initiated by the company and at the same time, they are not bold enough to communicate to the management of the company of how they are overwhelmed by the projects. This indicates that for the system changeover to be initiated, and then a conducive business environment must first be created for a smooth changeover. This could be done by increasing the number of information technology personnel, making more resources available for the implementation of identified projects and training of staff and other users on what information technology can provide when it is utilized optimally.

Creation of a conducive business environment will facilitate the smooth changeover from the current information operations to more efficient information technology operation projects. The technology changes which should take place at MaxTrade Company include the establishment of a solid information technology work plan, development of backup systems and establishment of recovery plans. These important features of efficient information technology platform were lacking at MaxTrade Company according to the case study conducted. Low-cost internal technologies should be developed within the company.

Examples of low-cost technologies include the development of information technology communication systems to be used for communication purposes within the company, development of customer feedback interface within the company website and also members of staff forum where they can air their views and ideas. These low-cost technologies will improve the efficiency of the company performance internally which will later be reflected to the outside world by the services offered by the company to its customers.

The company should adopt new technology developments and changes such as radically transforming the information technology department by developing a competent team that is capable of discovering and innovating solutions on a timely basis. Business units in the company, according to Kaplan, (2006), should be treated as customers to build a partnership at all MaxTrade Company units. This will go ahead in ensuring that there is coordination in all company departments within MaxTrade Company.

The case study done at MaxTrade Company identified the business environment in four key areas which include political and legal environment, economic, socio-cultural and technological areas. The portfolio management managers should analyze the above business environment at MaxTrade Company to come up with strategic and long- term business plans for the company (Schwalbe, 2009).

The analysis should try to answer several questions to determine the strategic direction of the company. In economic areas, the management needs to ask questions such as, what is the current financial position of MaxTrade Company. Despite the company being highly profitable, which financial measures should be put in place to sustain this profitability? Which elements of economic theories need to be practiced in the company? Concerning the sustainability of company profits, the management should ask whether the company has sufficient capital and monetary reserves to cater to bad economic times especially with the current economic recession.

In legal and political factors, the management needs to ask whether the new technology developments to be adopted are in line with the current political and legal legislation, Will the technological systems adopted by the company be able to sustain political change over? Do the business environment in MaxTrade Company able to sustain rapidly increasing political risks and mayhem? The portfolio management should also consider how information technology can enable the company to integrate with the current political situation. The main aim of any business community is to make profits. Profits in MaxTrade Company are realized after the company sells its products and services to its customers.

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Customer patterns and needs must be identified when looking at the socio-cultural business environment (Tan and Theodorou, 2009). In this area, the management should analyze several questions such as; which cultural beliefs affect the operation of the company? How can the company develop information technology projects which can facilitate in identification of cultural needs amongst its customers? How do social-cultural factors influence the way members of staff at MaxTrade Company performs their duties and interacts with each other? How can members of staff and the entire management at MaxTrade Company change their mindset from seeing business as a tool of just making profits hence short-term thinking? The analysis of these social-cultural factors will enable the management in understanding the context of MaxTrade Company.

MaxTrade Company initial technology needs were simple and straightforward. To analyze the technological needs of the company, the portfolio management needs to answer various questions such as; how does the initial information technology integrates with the current technological needs of the company? Which technological projects in the company need to be eliminated as a result of their redundancy? How can members of staff in the company be educated to see information technology as a friendly working companion rather than being a threat?

How should the development of new information technology systems affect the way the company performs its operations? Other questions such as how information technology inventiveness can be enhanced in the company should be put into consideration. The question about the number of projects which can be worked on at any given time by the information technology personnel must also be put into consideration. It is clear from the case study that it’s not possible to embark on working on all the 932 projects initiated. The resources needed to implement the information technology projects at MaxTrade Company should be identified in terms of both monetary resources and human resources.

The most appropriate metrics in answering the questions developed above would be value delivery metrics and process improvement. Any effective information technology portfolio management must seek the value of information technology systems which will reduce the cost of reduction and at the same time increasing revenue. The time cycle required to perform various processes will also be analyzed under value delivery. Process improvement at MaxTrade Company will try to establish whether there is any improvement in information technology portfolio management in terms of scope, focus on value-added activities and the benefits reaped from the adopted information technology infrastructure.

In conclusion information technology portfolio management must first identify metrics before embarking on any other process otherwise, it will be fruitless as the management will apply reverse engineering in the management. Reverse engineering, in this case, means adopting new technological changes without first analyzing their merits and demerits and instead waits for any possible outcome whether positive or negative. The portfolio management at MaxTrade Company should, therefore, use-value delivery and process improvement to reap maximum benefits in any technological change adopted. This will keep the company operations back in place and focus on customer satisfaction.

Reference List

Kaplan, J., D. 2006. Strategic IT portfolio management: governing enterprise transformation. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Levine, H., A. 2005. Project portfolio management: a practical guide to selecting projects, managing portfolios, and maximizing benefits. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Maizlish, B. and Handler R. 2005. IT portfolio management step-by-step: unlocking the business value of technology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Schwalbe, K. 2009. Information Technology Project Management. Upper Saddle River: Cengage Learning, 2009.

Stewart, R., A. 2008. A framework for the life cycle management of information technology projects: Project IT. International Journal of Project Management. (26)2. Pp. 203-212.

Tan, W., A. and Theodorou, P. 2009. Strategic Information Technology and Portfolio Management. New York: IGI Global snippet.

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