Friday, August 17, 2012

If IT Doesn't Get It, Neither Do You, by guest bloggers Rick Bertheaud and Bryan Furlong

You may think you own the global process, but if your global business services are dependent upon a disconnected or uninterested IT group, breakdowns aren't far ahead.

We’ve all heard the statistics: 40 percent of IT implementations are considered failures, and it goes miserably down from there. Typically, the project starts with process consultants interviewing process owners then turning those into requirements for IT, and yes, with a varying degree of quality. 

Nonetheless, a longstanding fractious relationship tends to exist between process owners and technology owners.  Not to beat up exclusively on the IT folks, but with so much riding on their ability to implement, what does that hold for your process improvement efforts?  The reality is, too often, in the underwhelming statistics of success or lack thereof.   

The answer is in solution ownership

We have paid a lot of attention over the last few years to process and process ownership.  In today’s overly matrixed world, you can hear about a lot of ownership in an average planning meeting.  “I own the process.”  “I own the technology.” “I own the people.” “I own the budget.”  Rarely do you hear anyone say, “I own the solution.” But how refreshing, not to mention valuable, if someone did.

To be truly successful on a global scale today, forget departmental divides. The most mature organizations own multifunctional processes as well as the underlying technology.  In other words, The Solution.  This means they can manage cohesive, end-to-end solutions that connect disparate systems, owners and activities.  They also organize skill sets in appropriate groups to drive efficiency and additional controls.

New transformational skills

Speaking of skill sets, CPAs can now become CITPs—Certified Information Technology Professionals. Only CPAs can become CITPs, and they have a unique understanding not only of accounting, but of the technology to, among others, review programs for:

Risk Assessment
Fraud Considerations
Internal Control and IT General Controls
Evaluate, Test and Report
Information Management and Business Intelligence

CITPs, and others who understand both the process and the technology put together the people with the knowledge, process and technology, so solution ownership becomes more of a reality.  

Service-oriented models

New approaches may also make solution ownership more viable.  Through models such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), you may not have to invest heavily in your own information technology.  Instead, you can have multiple services within a diverse commercial enterprise resource planning (ERP) environment, while taking advantage of multi-tenant platforms offered by software-as-a-service providers.  Cloud anyone?

Not that you should ever use the cloud to avoid IT, quite the contrary.  Involving IT in any cloud solution might not thrill them to death, but you desperately need their years of experience with vendors, contracts, compatibilities, upgrades, etc.

Mark Thiele of Swift recently blogged the following:

Can you use a mix of external providers such as Amazon EC2, Terremark, Savvis & CSC
Easily change from HP to Cisco hardware (or vice versa)
Switch from VMWare to Hyper-V 3 (or vice versa)
Can you easily adopt a new provisioning/scripting framework like chef/puppet/cfengine
Reuse the policy enforcement & auditing system you currently have while making any of changes above
Reuse your procurement portal and provisioning workflows while achieving the above

If you don’t know the answer or don’t know what these questions mean, exactly, your chances of being a successful IT renegade are probably quite low.

The proof is in the team

Global business services (GBS) take the team approach.  Even with the best IT and applications, the GBS approach makes sure the infrastructure is supportive, the applications work, change management has brought the organization in line, and internal customers are treated like valued clients.  In short, the GBS is positioned and working to meet business goals and set up for prosperity ahead.
Rick Bertheaud, Principal, KPMG 
Bryan Furlong, Global Management Consulting, KPMG

1 comment:

  1. The points you made in your article are insightful and productive. Whether the task at hand is a sourcing project or an application development project the concept of Solution Ownership is often missed, especially by those members of management who should be the Champion of the effort. I find that failures are greatest in those organizations with the weakest Governance structures.