As demand for digital heats up, companies are trying to figure out where to start, what the goals should be, and how to balance change and risk.  IT has a central role in helping. But what, specifically, should they be doing?

Here’s where they can begin:

1. Focus on the business–not technology–case. 

Build a case that primarily changes the way your business offers and delivers services. If cost reduction is an objective, make it secondary so that it won’t obscure other opportunities for change. For example, a leading transport logistics company made a mega-million dollar bet to modernize their mainframe-based shipments. Their primary objective was to innovate new products and services by leveraging digital modernization that its supply chain partners and suppliers were creating. At the end of this IT modernization effort, the company found it not only reduced IT costs, it made their entire delivery and operations leaner and more competitive!

2. Start somewhere, anywhere. 

Business operations people traditionally prefer to do meticulous planning before taking the first step. Often times, that translates into endless analyses. Instead, try setting up rapid prototyping and show-and-tell workshops to accelerate decision making. And instead of limiting analysis to IT-centric “Conference Room Pilots,” validate outcomes with people in business operations and help move quickly from pilot to production.

3. Culture matters.

IT professionalsAny modernization initiative must bring a wide variety of people together. A successful program will involve bringing business operations, IT, technology providers, and a host of other intermediate and controlling organizations together regularly in an effort to form a cohesive team. Front loading the program sets the project into motion with the right purpose and plan to drive results across the company.

Consider these steps:

  • Analyze and discuss a plan-to-fail approach early on
  • Estimate and limit waste upfront and by design
  • Develop, test and realign to achieve a  “first-time-right” solution.

This approach not only limits program failures but also builds better credibility within the business over the long run.

4. Execute on smaller runways. 

Now let’s think about all this in the context of being agile. How can you create agility when specific stakeholder dependencies are difficult to predict up front? How do you graduate from validating functionality to measuring quality of outcome early in the program life cycle?

In your attempt to measure progress will you use standard IT project KPIs as measures of success or measures that avoid failure? It is important to recognize how Programs and Projects share a relationship akin to the Creator and the Creation. While delivery KPIs measure the quality of execution, program leaders must determine what analytical measures quantify the success of a program. They will also want to make analytically competent decisions to start, continue, change and EOL projects. Redefining the IT-business operating model along these lines results in the development of sophisticated, agile engineering and operational capabilities… exactly what your organization is looking for!

In today’s digital era, business operations can benefit from a goldmine of newly created capabilities. Technology has become the centerpiece of that transformation, in ways more unique than ever. IT can respond to this opportunity and create a meaningful impact, but it requires a paradigm shift in discovery, planning and execution.

Read learning about other practices if you are interested in learning more about how you can put IT in the driver seat.

Nishanth Varanasi

Nishanth Varanasi

Business transformation & IT change delivery leader