Organisational systems implemented using information technology are at the heart of business. Z/Yen values organisational systems because they are designed to control risk and reward, e.g. systems can control risk by ensuring processes are followed or by providing information, and systems can enhance reward through delivering improved economy, efficiency, effectiveness or competitive advantage. As the leading risk/reward professional practice, Z/Yen devotes a substantial portion of its work to the effective use of information systems and information technology.
Key themes are emerging in information technology and information systems. Systems are now seen to be more integrated with the organisation. Systems-based management approaches such as ISO9000 or business process re-engineering are almost certain to fail when they are divorced from information systems. Managers today are committed to the development of information systems, often seeing automated systems as the basic standard of good practice. Workflow and wide-networking type systems, such as Lotus Notes or Netscape, blur the boundaries of information systems and organisation systems and eliminate the distinction between a system under development from an operational system. The organisation's processes are embodied in its systems - if the systems die, the organisation ceases to function.
Z/Yen’s risk/reward methodology is of particular use when beginning to plan major information systems projects, e.g. developing an information systems strategy or major outsourcing contract, and when contemplating major changes in scale or direction, e.g. a systems review or a information-based product launch. In order to align risk and reward, Z/Yen often begins work with clients that must be followed through the entire system lifecycle: specification, design, development, testing, training, implementation and review. Z/Yen people are skilled at using strategic planning, project management, systems design, CASE and contract management methodologies. In practice, these tools vary from assignment to assignment, but the Z/Yen methodology remains constant at each planning stage, linking business strategy to information systems strategy to ensure appropriate, effective systems.
Z/Yen's clients vary from pragmatic, minimalist users to sophisticated, leading-edge technology players, in industries ranging from not-for-profit to government to commercial organisations in, to name a few areas, banking, insurance, R&D, retail, petrochemicals, media, distribution, hardware design, software and even IT outsourcing. Z/Yen has also developed a number of expertise areas in specialist functional technology platforms, such as marketing, financial systems, helplines and geographic information systems. The unifying feature of Z/Yen's clients in information technology is their focus on achieving a proper balance between costs and benefits, between safe components and the latest technology, and between their suppliers' interests and their own needs.
Z/Yen's risk/reward approach puts applications in their proper perspective from those, in some mission critical areas, worthy of full-scale business continuity planning, to those in other areas worth a quick, controlled pilot or prototype, e.g. expert systems, neural networks or chaotic/stochastic applications. Z/Yen looks at the widest possible picture - the business strategy, the leading edge possibilities, the commercial relationships, the constraints of time and money - in order to provide its clients with systems that control risk and enhance reward.