Bringing all of this content knowledge to bear creates overly complex solutions, pushing out project deadlines and kindling animosity between project teams and “the business.” A fundamentally flawed process is recreated in another technical solution, new rules being layered atop the old to compensate for new exceptions, or the strengths and weaknesses of the new solution.
Tackling the Problem
IT is in a unique position to tackle these business problems from a different perspective. CIOs are beginning to realize the future of IT lies not in being a cheap internal provider, evoked only at the whim of another business unit, but that IT can actually generate value for the corporation through the projects it implements.
Just as a coder who is strong in one programming language can rapidly pick up a similar programming language, a cadre of process-savvy IT employees can redesign a process in finance just as easily as they rework one in HR.
IT projects that traditionally pitched a technical solution to every problem can now approach a business problem without a preconceived technical solution by attacking the process first and foremost.
Imagine reporting to the CFO you increased the efficiencies of the supply chain by five percent and also discovered along the way that the ERP package under consideration really would not dramatically improve the supply; saving the money and pain associated with a large-scale software implementation.
A naysayer might argue IT would be stepping outside its traditional purview by looking at process as the primary lever of business problem solving, and using technology as the grease that moves the lever all the more quickly. Many companies undertake sweeping process improvement initiatives with armies of consultants and internal resources with titles that make them sound more like ninjas than process gurus.
Most of these initiatives tackle the same problems as past IT implementations, and often result in a recommendation to implement some kind of technical solution. Would it not make sense to combine the two disciplines, turning IT into a cadre of process experts that also have access to a complete technology toolkit?
IT is already in the unique position of touching every business unit, with established contacts, relationships and expertise across the corporation. Most IT shops already have some level of process competency, and are generally quite accustomed to working in a project environment and all that it entails.
As ongoing IT operations transition to low-cost, internal support organizations, or are outsourced, a process focus provides new relevance for IT, leveraging areas where it already excels and trading its content baggage for an unrelenting focus on process.
Patrick Gray is the founder and President of Prevoyance Group, located in Harrison, NY. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services. Past clients include Gillette, Pitney Bowes, OfficeMax and several other Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at [email protected].