IT’s alignment with the business is critical to the success of an organization. My experience as CIO of Mannatech, Inc., working with business executives to achieve results for our supply chain management project, confirmed this to me.
Such alignment often entails the willingness of key leaders to collaborate and focus on the execution and delivery of key programs. In many cases, successful collaboration means leaders need to have extensive conversations concerning what’s vital to the business. Ideally, executives should give up personal agendas, work across departments and enable IT to provide the resources that are necessary to make those programs a success.
In addition to these factors, CIOs must also hire the IT professionals most likely to create an atmosphere of alignment between technology and business.
Hiring the Right IT Professional to Bridge the Business
As I continued to use alignment as a means of driving the success of all business programs, including supply chain management, I recognized the importance of hiring a seasoned supply chain management professional who could work side by side with the business to develop an overall strategy for supply chain optimization.
To meet this requirement, I selected an individual from the talent pool of consultants who had previously worked on supply chain efforts at Mannatech. I was looking for an individual who was well-versed in the supply chain discipline and could help guide the business along the appropriate path. In that same professional, I also sought someone who understood the specific supply chain modules of Mannatech’s resident Enterprise Resource Planning System so he or she could align the fundamental needs of the business with the technology.
This combination of talents, in turn, enabled the creation of a sound strategy that IT, in connection with the business, could use to introduce a program that would deliver huge value to the organization.
With this professional in place, Mannatech hired a supply chain management executive who had a very solid background in sourcing, contract management, demand planning and forecasting, warehouse management and logistics management. This individual was a well-respected leader who already understood the cultural dynamics of the business.
Achieving Strategic Value
Her focus on supply chain optimization, coupled with her desire to utilize technology to drive improvements and overall productivity for the business, was an ideal match for the company. She not only set her sights on collaborating with IT but also understood the need for cross-functional business alignment as a means to achieve strategic value for the business.
Our new VP of supply chain management began work immediately after accepting her new role to ensure that both a disciplined and structured approach for execution was in place. During this process, we developed a cohesive strategy and execution plan for the supply chain optimization project. Both the plan and strategy were shared with key business executives and then subsequently shared with the CFO.
Her relationship with the CFO was an important one because we wanted him to understand the impact and importance of the supply chain optimization initiative. The VP of supply chain management carefully nurtured that relationship and was key in advising the CFO of specific efficiency and cost savings opportunities that were available as a result of this project. She outlined the business case associated with the need for supply chain optimization and helped ensure the program had the appropriate level of visibility at the senior executive level. The vice president of supply chain management met with the CFO to discuss the pros and cons of the effort. Not only was she able to elevate the importance of the program with the CFO, but she also specifically worked with IT to champion the success of the program.