The Five Pillars of a Successful IT Transformation Strategy

In today’s tough economy, ”budget cuts” are often a go-to solution for senior leadership. But cutting costs without a strategic assessment of how, why and where to do so can defeat the intended purpose, and often sacrifices long-term business objectives for short-term balance sheet gains. At Technology Business Integrators (TBI), we believe that an integrated IT transformation strategy is the best path to creating greater productivity, efficiency and an optimal IT foundation for scalable success—for IT, business units, and the organization as a whole.

The rewards for implementing a holistic IT transformation strategy over piecemeal IT tactical decisions are immense. But the path to success does require a committed vision and an understanding of the inevitable challenges you will experience along the way. For the executive visionary who is willing to challenge the status quo, the opportunities to benefit the organization and establish a higher level of leadership are enormous.

This white paper outlines five key pillars that an enterprise must support in order to successfully deploy a true IT transformation strategy. It explains the potential roadblocks you may face internally, how to overcome them, and ultimately reach the goal line— transforming your company from disparate operational silos to a vitally integrated organization that has a competitive technological edge for decades to come.

Approaching IT from a Holistic, Strategic Perspective

The first pillar of a successful IT transformation strategy is the ability to view IT as part of the greater whole and answer operational challenges with a macro-level business perspective rather than a piecemeal IT approach.

Part of the “doing more with less funding” strategy is often to use IT as a Band-Aid solution. Someone in senior management will suggest “going into the cloud”, using infrastructure as a service, or exploring server and application virtualization as a cure-all for all the business’ and IT department’s woes. By extension, this is supposed to improve performance and increase satisfaction across business units. The problem with looking at IT in this ad-hoc fashion is that there is no cohesion or consideration for higher-level organizational goals. IT reacts to problems instead of proactively building an infrastructure and software applications that align with strategic business objectives, revenue goals, and cross-functional operational requirements.

A large, multi-national engineering company’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) hired Technology Business Integrators to evaluate the effectiveness of its IT organization and make recommendations to improve efficiency, streamline costs and infrastructure, and internal customer satisfaction. Our recommendation to the engineering company: marry business strategy and IT strategy.

By viewing IT as a transformational and strategic change agent rather than tactical operations support, the company was able to seamlessly integrate IT operations into the company’s bottom-line business strategy and use it as a linchpin for revenue growth and operational efficiency.

Conducting Due Diligence and Discovery

In order to properly leverage the benefits of a transformation strategy, it is also imperative to focus on the second pillar: a thorough assessment of the current “state of the union.” Extensive interviews and discovery sessions with the executive team, across business units, and the IT team—as well as research into governance and operational processes—are a critical first step in formulating an actionable and insightful IT transformation strategy. These standardized procedures and methodologies will naturally bring to the surface the pain points for the business and IT functions—including areas in which the business needs to develop new processes, eliminate or integrate applications, redefine business units and so forth.

Part of the discovery process also involves aggregating and analyzing data to identify service gaps and how IT service ranks in customer satisfaction across the organization. Through a thorough assessment at the onset, you will be able to identify and build the business case for why your organization isn’t getting the results you want from IT, and understand how it is impacting not only IT operations—but your overall business strategy and bottom line.

Getting Executive Commitment and Leadership

Executive-level buy-in in a third, non-negotiable prerequisite for a successful IT transformation strategy. Because “transformation” inherently infers a sea change that can take more than a year to achieve, it requires at least one C-level executive who is willing to sponsor the initiative and commit to seeing it through. That person must also be up to the challenge of defending it when confronted by those with less vision.

If you are an executive who believes in a holistic IT transformation strategy and trying to get buy-in from the rest of the management team, a consulting firm like TBI can provide the objective third-party perspective and analytical data that supports and champions your goals. We can help you demonstrate where the shortfalls lie with data-driven analysis and a clear risks/benefits matrix.

Transcending Cultural Resistance

Equally as important as ensuring executive-level sponsorship is anticipating and addressing inevitable cultural resistance. It is human nature to resist change. For an IT transformation strategy to succeed, employees need to understand the management team’s goals for IT transformation strategy and know how it will ultimately impact and benefit them. Regular reporting and guidance from the top down through a deliberate and thoughtful internal communications strategy is important to mediate fear and anxiety from employees who will feel and express concern about changes to the status quo. This becomes even more important for global organizations with many different corporate cultures around the world, different languages, and culturally isolated business units within the organization.

Engaging in Best Practices for Technology

The final and perhaps most obvious pillar required in a successful IT transformation strategy is an IT department and technology that support the overarching business objectives of the transformation project. Best practices, standards and processes like IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), and Application Portfolio Rationalization (APR) must be included as part of a sound transformation strategy to ensure long-lasting, measurable and scalable success.

Remember where we started: A successful IT transformation strategy is holistic. From a technology perspective, this means it must address and encompass all aspects of IT services‑including servers, storage, data centers, applications, cloud computing, virtualization et al—and integrate them all into a cohesive and efficient system that supports increased productivity, greater efficiency, and higher profitability.

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