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IT Transformation Requires One Step After The Other

Looking For Direction

The technology (specifically IT) world is becoming more complex and challenging every day. I speak with a number of Business Leaders, CIOs, IT leaders and IT staff about this very issue. The subject of IT Transformation is one that keeps coming up. Yet, it seems as illusive as it is alluring. The prospect that it could bring is enough motivation for many to try. For most IT organizations, the capacity to take on the challenge seems out of reach. Many still struggle to keep up with day-to-day operational challenges. Let those fall and nothing else matters. On the flip side, doing nothing is not an option either. Warning: This is hard work and is much easier to talk about than execute.

Choosing the Right Approach

There are several schools of thought here. Two leading directions are to either take a Leapfrog or Incremental approach. There are pros and cons to each of these. Ideally, one would intertwine the two. However, that presents a whole new set of challenges. The big upside to Leapfrog is time. Bypassing the myriad of issues may seem attractive. Heck, the business may provide enough pressure to actually make this seem feasible. The downside is in what gets missed through the process. Miss a step and it is all over. That leads to the Incremental approach. Seems like a safe bet, right? Well, the time required will far exceed the patience of those within and outside of IT. Remember that the demand and complexity is increasing. The Incremental approach does provide a more measured process. So, which one should be used? Both. Measure the risk and reward for each increment. Speed up the intervals and Leapfrog where possible.

Being Inclusive

IT Transformation is not a technology problem. Well, not exactly. It’s a problem that requires several components working in concert. Without the combination of the components, the effort is not effective. A Holistic approach takes into account Technology, Process and Organization. Some refer to this as People, Process and Technology. However, it’s important to understand the relationships of the people as a function of the organization. Arbitrarily taking a Holistic approach to include all three can be cumbersome and daunting. Hence, a more Surgical approach to the three is warranted. If there is a knob (ie: technology) to improve, what are the process and organizational changes needed to support and maintain that change? The Holistic approach is needed. But it needs to be performed surgically to avoid gridlock.

Using Cloud as an Example

The advent of Cloud Computing is a great example. I have seen organizations simply try to replace their traditional operations with cloud-based operations. This takes me back to the early days of outsourcing (offshoring) where people were replaced 1:1 or 1:3 without regard for process and organizational changes. In the case of cloud, the change didn’t work. In most cases, one cannot just go down the hall to reboot a server or install any new application. Without consideration that the processes to manage the infrastructure, operations and framework will change, a number of core assumptions are made. Some naively.

Risk of Doing Nothing

It should go without saying, but doing nothing is not an option either. The business is demanding change. IT needs to change and evolve. IT competition exists and the business knows it. However, there is a strong value proposition that the internal IT organization can deliver. The question is can they do it and will they?

Bottom Line: Get a plan in place and start executing. Partner with the business to help define and guide the process.

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