Confluence of IT and Business Strategy for a Transformation program
Emerging business needs and stiff competition are forcing organizations to rethink on the business strategies, often leading them to identifying avenues for improvements and towards what is known as "Transformation". Various reasons for a business transformation would include smart ways of working, effective information sharing, continuous improvement in the operation model, availability of vital information for better decision making etc. These forms key contributors to an effective transformation exercise. For any transformation to be successful, it is important that the key contributors are identified and implemented effectively, but how often are we sure of completely meeting our transformation objectives? The answer is, very rarely! What did we miss then? Was there a flaw in charting out the transformation ideologies? Or did we completely lose the business context while implementing the transformation program?
Any transformation brings with it both cultural and technology changes, making an enterprise to be extremely cautious about implementing them. Let's have a closer look at the transformation layer, with heavy reliance on IT to drive the business process, predominantly two entities co-exist within the transformation layer; they are Business Process by itself and the IT. Business transformation is definitely an eye catcher with the top leagues in management as it negotiates well with the top line, converting their short term and long term goals and adding value to their customers thereby enabling them to stand out in the competition. Business process once optimized, it enables better ways to do things going forward. No matter everyone likes it or not, this very idea resonates well with the management.
Business Process Blueprint once ready, the IT owns the onus of translating these business processes or so called rules to ensure that they get implemented seamlessly. IT strategies need to ensure that the business process is completely adhered to. As an IT consultant, I would have myriad way to meet "my understanding" of the expected business requirements but the question is how correct is "my understanding"? How sure I can be while tracing the requirements, all by myself, back to all such related processes which are impacted by the changes I make? How sure am I that the requirements tractability would always lead me to a correct requirement to IT strategy mapping? Who would and how to sign off on such a change? Complexity further aggravates if boundaries in terms of adherence to a best of breed IT solution or package is being pictured by the management. Restrictions get further placed on the IT Implementer to adhere to a safe implementation route, the so called best IT practices.
The Business and the IT layer, having their individual goals and hence their respective KPIs, are often heading towards meeting it and with a typical nature of their execution in which one precedes the other, there is a scope of conflict with little or no scope for corrections. Getting into such situation at a later part in the game creates problems by not allowing a timely retrofit option. IT Implementation often gets done without completely analyzing the business impact, a phenomenon not completely attributable to lack of business acumen but more to do with less or no Involvement during the business blue print phase of the project. What was thought to be a best of breed business process renders to be a mere IT solution without realization of the expected business benefits. What may look good from an IT strategy point of view could actually be a business problem in the future. How do we make things work then?
A decision on implementing transformational changes entails both IT and the Business consultants to watch out for conflicts and collaboratively implement the change. A trade-off between changes in the underlying business process or negotiating on the permissible IT System changes is imperative but if the entities work in a constructive- Iterative way, it can bring about great benefits to the whole program. There sure are challenges involved like unavailability of all stake holders to validate the change, resistance to change owing to Impact in the multiple process areas requiring revisit etc. but the Impact of not having it is damaging. These challenges could be remediated to great extent by an early partnership in the transformation program, a mechanism to ensure a collaborative working model between the IT and Business entities. They are an integral unit for success of any transformation exercise and should go hand in hand.