In this blog we are looking at transforming a defined IT Strategy into the new practice of the organization, with particular focus on how process transformation is one key enabler for this. Several examples illustrate some of the challenges of such transformations.
Many studies on strategy failure identified that it is mostly in the implementation of the strategy where organizations fail (see for example the findings of Kaplan and Norton and the classic Fortune article “Why CEOs fail”). Leaders have the responsibility to create the conditions for implementing the strategy, including motivation by communicating the vision and aligning the goals / Key Performance Indicators, redesign of the processes and ensuring the changed way of working is lived and followed up in their organization.
Why are Processes a Key Enabler?
Processes are at the very core of an organization in that they define the workflows, roles and responsibilities. To enable everyone in the company to work according to a new strategy, the processes need to be updated and aligned with new priorities, roles, etc. and deployed into full operation. Accordingly, successful transformation leaders recognize processes as a key enabler and ensure that process transformation is a core element of the strategy implementation.
Example: Transformation at Objectives Level
A strategic objective may be to focus the internal IT resources on prioritized core areas and utilization of partners for the non-core activities. Therefore, a significant number of resources may be shifted from areas like operations or support to the identified core areas (e.g. innovation & application development). The processes impacted will include the ones related directly to the activities with a focus change, as well as processes for partner engagement. The implementation of the transformation on the process side will need to address: clarity of roles, consistency in the process model, minimizing hand-overs, avoiding duplications as well as a sound deployment and training approach for the employees coming into new or changed roles.
Example: Transformation at Value Chain Level
The strategy implementation will typically impact the value generating processes of your organization. Let’s assume that Demand Management has been identified as pivotal for implementing an improved customer engagement and driving down IT cost (see What Matters to CIOs?). Process optimization for Demand Management may range from streamlined and empowered decision meetings supported by standard checklists, workflows and templates with customer and IT department sections – outlining mandatory content required and guidelines addressing shared responsibilities.
Example: Addressing the Transformation itself
An example for increasing the success-rate of strategy implementation is to consider the sustainability of the transformation from the beginning. One principle of sustainability is to closely link the transformation of processes with the actual operations of the processes. Activities in this direction may include: assigning and empowering process managers for the affected end-to-end processes; including feedback loops and continuous process improvement as an integral part of the transformation; keeping tools and processes in sync; providing a Process Council to decide on cross-process interfaces and priorities. Sustainability is achieved, when these activities continue as an integral part of the organization also after the current transformation is completed.
A successful strategy implementation requires a systematic process transformation including management commitement, experienced resources and leadership. Best wishes for success in your specific transformation challenges. And you are welcome to tune in for a next blog on what is the difference in a process-oriented company.