ModMeters is suggesting a major shift in its growing plans. Shifting from meeting demand it is looking to expand operations and create new markets. These aggressive plans will rely heavily on IT to pave the way and aid in the ventures. IT and business heads have met to develop a planning process that will look at the organizations conversion process and outputs. New markets and expanding operations will take time to develop and require significant investments. This new business model will provide an opportunity to get the IT planning process right and make sure it is dynamic enough to work with the overall business.
Develop an IT planning process for ModMeters to accomplish the demands
In order to leverage IT for the benefit of the whole organization enterprise architecture must be developed to oversee IT strategy. Centralizing IT strategy at the start of the new business strategies will be important to make sure IT and business are working together with common goals that deliver the most value. The following steps are to be completed within each department:
Complete a SWOT analysis with a focus on IT core competences.
Survey business employees on what technologies they use and how they utilize them.From within the business locate key workers that are capable of becoming account managers. Their initial focus is on understanding how the department uses technology in the current environment.
After gathering the initial data about core IT competencies and departmental capabilities the account managers should document and present their findings to the executives and other account managers. From this the governance body can look for existing strategic themes and interoperability.
After this, guiding principles that link to the new corporate strategies must be developed into a core vision for IT. This will be formed by the executives in conjunction with the business account managers. The focus will be on expanding operations globally and direct-to-customer sales. We must be careful not to ignore current business needs and maintain operations. The biggest hurdle is the prioritization process that approves projects. This reaches in all aspects of the business and effects their ability to operate.
With the large picture in view we will need to take a portfolio approach that can be used across the organization to increase value in chunks. We will need to set up funding buckets for the different dimensions of IT strategy and make sure they are all funded appropriately. With the account managers all weighing in with equal say this should remove the focus on ROI and begin to show other value measurements. Initially on each proposed project every account manager should discuss and examine how their department can leverage the technology. Of course this hinges on the large problem of having a poorly designed IT architecture. We should focus on infrastructure projects that allow the businesses to get rid of outdated software and hardware that can be replaced with standard equipment that strengthens for enterprise decisions. Those projects should also align with the new strategies proposed. This move will also help reign in the spending on maintenance and regulatory issues in the future. To further increase our IT system’s flexibility and capabilities we will need to make sure the portfolio approach covers the following:
Business improvement: This can be linked with expanding globally with a focus on putting the best practices in the new plants.
Business enabling: The direct-to-customer sales initiative will be the bulk of these projects in the near future.
Business opportunities: The new strategies and Stan’s new auditing needs can be aided by these projects.
Opportunity leveraging: These projects are different than looking for strategic themes as discussed earlier. This will be implementing the opportunities from other projects. A key to succeeding in the new corporate strategy.
Infrastructure: These will be a major hurdle but will help free up the budget in the future. If we build a strong intranet that is on a standard architecture it will also support the operations globally.
One advantage to funding and looking at these project types individually is that we can develop a way to measure their impact and value. Not all of them will generate revenue but they will all create value if done well. As a first step, when the account managers meet for project evaluation, the value and objectives of a project must stated and agreed upon.
Issues that I have focused and discussed:
In the case, decisions about IT are made at a departmental level. There is a central IT part of the organization but they are not set up to look at the enterprise level. The onion is peeled and needs to be put back together before the global plans can bear fruit. The company will need to get an overview of what is in each department, what is working well, and what needs upgrading to avoid maintenance. No mention of account managers was made in the case and since the executive were bringing in their wish list of IT projects there is probably not a strong connection between the business and IT. During specific projects this may differ but corporate sponsorship will need to be a primary focus in the upcoming plans.
The strategic plans will have to take a long term view on all fronts – infrastructure changes, IT architecture changes, IT strategy, global growth, and direct-to-customer sales. IT has been driven by the business needs and advancements have not been incorporated well leaving the used systems in a chaotic state. Having a longer term view means bringing in technologies, software, and hardware that will work together with existing systems and position the organization for the future. The small IT budget and the way it gets doled out reflect a short term view that focuses on revenue generating expenses.
One of the biggest failures of the company has been to set up standards and identify potential value from interoperability. Having enterprise architecture will help identify strategic themes for the business departments. A formal process to prioritize the available projects has been lacking and all projects are currently measured on ROI only. Each project will need to identify its value, which will not always be monetary, and then can be assessed individually. A portfolio approach should be adopted to help in this process. Additionally, funding will need to be allocated for different project types that supply different value. Previously infrastructure has been lacking with ModMeters project selections. Since most of the organizations projects relate to the profit arm of the business they are somewhat easy to measure the success of.
As growing the market becomes the primary concern the measurement process must be devised for other project types. Measurements must be put in place and followed up on to ensure projects are achieving value for the organization. The departments are competing with one another by bringing their projects to the budget meeting separately and sharing from the same budget. Seeing if there is a way to combine different department’s projects into a holistic orientation could also improve the feeling of joint ownership. With the change in organization strategy it is a chance to compare and combine projects and get departmental liaisons working together.
The company does not have a team environment in place. This makes strategies less effective since not everyone understands what is important for the business to succeed. The need to design a system that puts the new strategic focuses at the forefront is apparent. This will also give focus to the IT projects that come up for review and implementation. A valuation program will have to be put in place and the organization will have to educate the workers on how it works. This will influence the Human Resources budget also. Utilizing surveys within the company are a good way to get a pulse on how the company is doing with employee satisfaction. With no mention in the case about what is currently in place an outside company could be hired to perform this which would increase the confidence in the results. Link strategic imperatives to the new business goals. This will additionally focus the IT and business employees to propose projects that support those goals.
Bussiness Impact Assessment:
ModMeter’s infrastructure is hampering its growth and regulation compliance. There is little communication between departmental systems due to this patchwork of software and hardware technologies. This setup reduces the organizations response abilities and flexibility as well as increasing maintenance and storage costs for an array of systems that can fail and need hard to obtain materials on hand. Compiling a thorough set of documentation for processes that exist on multiple software packages can be very challenging. This is more than a chance to clean house, this is an opportunity to position the company for the future.