When the Going Gets Tough – The Tough Get Help

By | February 5, 2015

I’ve recently spent an exhausting weekend helping my daughter plan her wedding and after being asked about everything from colors to tuxedo lapel widths to cake frosting flavors – I gave up and hired a wedding coordinator. Why not? This is not something that most of us do every day or even regularly. The last wedding I planned was 32 years ago.
Could we have done it ourselves? Probably. Would the day be perfect? Maybe. Would the solution cost more? Absolutely. What I hired was peace-of-mind. Someone that knows all the steps, all the players, and what the costs should be. The partner arrangements she has in place will result in discounts that more than pay her fees and when we arrive at the venue there will be chairs and flowers and all the integration needed for the celebration.
Transformation in the area of connected digital services and the providers that want to offer them is, like a wedding, a once-in-a-generation change that affects every part of the business and operations. This is uncharted territory. The changes service providers face are so dramatic, that it’s safe to say most of those tasked to deliver this change have never been here before. There are a few ways to get it right and lots of ways to get it wrong.
Two things that will prove invaluable as service providers adapt their businesses are:
• Establish a core strategy group and grant them budget and leadership power. This group develops the roadmap, makes adjustments, and prioritizes projects across the enterprise to maximize the customer experience and ensure benefit for the business. Budget is not approved until the requestor can show positive customer impact. This should not be an ad hoc group that is pulled together once per year to plan budgets but a full-time function with assigned leadership and performance metrics.

• Establish a program management office to execute the roadmap and make sure that no project is funded without being under the PMO umbrella. In order to progress, every strategy must be decomposed into tactical projects. Some are best executed within the business unit, while other projects are more foundational and require greater cooperation, input, and oversight. Change management happens in the PMO so that every change is understood by every business unit and impact is understood before implementation, not after. Corporate standards are maintained in the PMO such that new procurements include requirements for interfaces, management system integration and status reporting, and data models.

Making IT business-centric remains a struggle and it’s likely that the expertise required to establish these two oversight functions might not exist in-house. At least initially, bringing in someone with broad industry experience, a perspective of what’s happening in the industry and an understanding of what it takes to define and execute operational processes and strategies might prove helpful. There is no shame in asking for help and in the end it saves money and prevents disappointment. That’s my sales pitch for this year.
All the best in 2015!

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