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Best Practice in Digital Transformation

Best Practice in Digital Transformation

When Employees Are Using Software & Devices That IT Hasn’t Approved

Digital transformation that starts with a mission from the CEO or another leader like a  mayor or executive team, often turns into a mega project. This is a project that everyone has to be a part of – even if they are against the change. The trouble with this is that mega projects take a long time to deliver. Then, by the time they do deliver value or other, what they provide may well be obsolete and your teams have lost interest and sometimes with the benefits or deliverables you realise or get, don’t really match your objectives or are missing from the project you started with.

If you don’t think this is happening in your organisation, think again. You might just not know what your people are up to – I mean do we really have visibility on every project or some of the shadowing things that can happen within a project?

In some cases, when shadow IT solutions come to light a CIO will shut them down completely, sometimes triggering an early departure by the frustrated business unit executives involved.  This may at times be an appropriate response, but we have also seen IT adopt an open-minded approach and successfully work with a “rogue unit” to help secure data, standardize APIs, and ultimately assemble solutions that combine internal and external services.  

SCADA and water infrastructure management has been the domain of engineering and not IT. These networks are not rogue networks outside of the domain of management, but often IT has very little visibility into their security and patching or  maintenance.

Advising and researching councils and other organisations facing digital transformation challenges suggests that applying the following two rules of thumb will help CIOs into a better place to anticipate and manage shadow or IT projects outside of their purview:

  1. Identify where you need to be best in class. Let line-of-business leaders or engineering decide whether to outsource or insource the best-in-class solutions for SCADA security or other that they need. This may result in a split IT function where a central IT unit manages legacy structural projects while a dedicated agile team manages digital innovation.  This flexible approach should help reduce the number of nasty security or other surprises because IT will at least be part of the sourcing process for new projects.
  2. Start small everywhere else and stay out of the box. CIOs are often tempted to go for total solutions from big suppliers, but as we’ve seen this usually means they end up missing the bus because our survey data shows that AU councils are more disattisfied with their ERP solutions than satisfied. The best IT solutions providers are narrowly focused on a specific problem and we would recommend that CIOs take a similar approach. Rather than try and solve a lot of problems at the same time but too late, try to fix specific problems quickly by working with specialised vendors who deliver in their space well. Working in this way may open up the whole organisation to the idea of swapping out more quickly to new and better solutions as they materialise. That can’t be bad can it?

Applying these rules will transform the forward-looking part of the IT function from being the owner and controller of solution deployment, to the “orchestrator” of an ecosystem of suppliers (including itself). The result initially can be some chaos but compared to forcing rollouts of multi-year solutions that don’t really serve the business well today, this may be best choice for the immediate business needs. It may speed up the shift away from poorly supported ERP solutions also.

In this new role as “orchestrator,” the IT team becomes a partner and a coach to the line of business helping them to select vendors, properly design APIs and ensure an appropriate level of security. That is the goal.

We have been doing this work since 2003 – getting IT into a better place on projects and ensuring secure and better governance across councils and other authorities. Be sure to call and ask to speak with one our customers. We would be glad to have them tell you how we do it better.

Reference: When Employees Are Using Software That IT Hasn’t Approved.

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