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PA OPINION

Tipping the balance towards success for IT-enabled business transformation

While organisations have been delivering IT-enabled business transformations for decades, the vast majority of programmes fail to deliver the expected benefits.

It’s no longer enough to follow a conventional approach to business transformation like ensuring active support and sponsorship of senior management or establishing clear and effective governance. Based on our experience delivering transformation programmes, we’ve identified the key focus areas for organisations embarking on IT-enabled business transformation, to ensure successful delivery and drive value for their business.

1. Inspire people to embark on the journey and visibly reward success

Be passionate about the future, defining a clear vision and roadmap for the programme. Successful programmes demand strong leadership. Go out of your way to identify the stars in your organisation (business and IT), align involvement with their career development, and visibly reward their contributions to the successful delivery of sustainable benefits.

2. Clarify your in-house capabilities

Think carefully about the expertise, skills, and competencies you will need to be successful. Consider which of those capabilities may be supported in-house or by your vendors to drive sustainable benefits. And identify where external expertise for the overall management of the business transformation and underlying technological enablement is required. For example, at Thomson Reuters, we launched the market’s first managed service for Know your Customer (KYC) regulation, a key component of the anti-money laundering regime. Over a period of 12 months, we supported critical elements of the transformation programme. Our team of experts supported the management of the overall programme, design of the IT operating model, and data security assessment.

3. Lead with a customer focused blueprint of the integrated business and technology solution

Organisations need to understand the customer journey well and develop an engagement strategy collectively with the business and IT. Remain flexible, nimble, and be able to adapt to change. At Puget Sound Energy (PSE), we worked with a combined vendor team to improve every aspect of the customer experience. Together, we designed a five-year roadmap for delivering changes ranging from transforming self-service options, to establishing new data analytics, to improving the way field staff interact with customers. PSE has now embarked on this transformation – one of the biggest and most complex ever undertaken by a US utility – and our team is helping them every step of the way.

4. Plan to deliver benefits early and regularly

Be pragmatic and aim to deliver in programme increments of three months or less, each building on the last. Where appropriate, embrace Agile delivery of new functionality. Utilise a feedback loop to optimise future activities outlined in the roadmap and continuously improve outcomes. While helping the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) take a critical step towards a cure for dementia, we applied our extensive expertise in Agile delivery and business change to create a public-facing web portal that connected volunteers for research studies with dementia researchers. Our approach included giving research groups and potential volunteers the opportunity to feedback on each new version of the portal and scheduling development work around set sprints to drive the project forward.

5. Beware of the illusion of risk transfer

Understand what drives your suppliers’ success and ensure that it can be aligned to your business objectives. Identify risks and rewards such that they are fully understood and appropriately managed. Although certain responsibilities can be shifted to your suppliers, accountability must reside with the business with appropriate management and oversight mechanisms in place beyond existing service level agreements.

By addressing the above key focus areas, the odds will be improved to drive the benefits of the IT enabled business transformation and overall success of the programme. In short, seek opportunities to simplify, optimise, and transform your operating model including underlying capabilities like business processes and organisational design before identifying and adopting new technology. And stay close to the possibilities offered by technological advancement but ensure that your programme is based upon real customer needs and the delivery of tangible business value.

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