Changes in IT Delivery to Achieve Better Results

Facing change and accepting change was one of the most difficult challenges in the past year in the IT division. Changing the way of working was like transforming the common practice of the past two decades into an unfamiliar model which was not easily accepted and digested by many. The main challenge and resistance to … Continue reading “Changes in IT Delivery to Achieve Better Results”

Facing change and accepting change was one of the most difficult challenges in the past year in the IT division. Changing the way of working was like transforming the common practice of the past two decades into an unfamiliar model which was not easily accepted and digested by many. The main challenge and resistance to changes was the fear of change and how it will affect individuals.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. – H. P. Lovecraft

Many in the IT division desperately wanted change at work, and yet they were uncomfortable and worried when it occurred. But change in the IT division was inevitable and necessary for the division thrive and to move to the next level of effective information technology delivery

In order to successfully execute organizational transformations or other enterprise-wide strategic initiatives, companies must align five process capabilities, which are referred to as the 5-M’s: meaning, mind-set, mobilization, measurement, and mechanisms for renewal.

The Ten Steps to Leading Enterprise-Wide Change Initiatives: 1. Communicate Urgency; 2. Clarify the Change Process; 3. Act Quickly and Decisively; 4. Focus Energy; 5. Commit Resources; 6. Develop Capabilities; 7. Realign Measures; 8. Reward New Behaviors; 9. Share Successes Broadly; 10. Embed Transformation. [Source: Douglas A. Ready -Leading Enterprise-Wide Change Initiatives]

In this article I will highlight a few of the changes that took place in 2015 to achieve better results in IT delivery.

Separation of Operations from development:

Bimodal IT (also known as “two-speed IT”) describes an approach that answers an enterprise’s need for both stable and agile IT systems. The term was created by IT consultancy Gartner Inc, which defines the two tiers as follows: “Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed.”

The CIO role is changing and is being affected by the need for two-speed IT. The IT division recognizes that using IT to compete in the digital domain may call for a different kind of expert; a “Digital CIO”, from the person running day-to-day IT operations. Indeed, enterprises appear to be moving rapidly to a bimodal version of the top IT job. According to Gartner’s 2015 CIO survey of about 2,800 IT leaders, 47% said they have a deputy CIO under them.

The separation of Operations from Projects activities was probably the most difficult change to accept during this year. The IT division had two aspects of work that existed, namely on-going operations and projects (including development initiatives). The philosophy behind the separation of Operations from development proposes that agile, innovative IT initiatives should be allows to move forward quickly without being hampered by the checks and balances that are needed to maintain business-critical IT operations. All work and/or efforts performed within the division was characterized as either operations or projects, and all of the costs of the division must be distributed to either operations or projects.

While CIOs might not be able to transform their existing IT department into a digital startup, they could turn it into a bi-modal IT organization. “Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation,” said Sondergaard, “and we predict that 75 percent of IT organizations will be bi-modal in some way by 2017.”[Source: Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research]

This change has managed to empower both areas in order to effectively focus on issues required to maintain the highest level of operations and allowed the Projects and development initiatives to deliver the highest level of quality deliverables. The maturity level of this change is still in its initial stages but it is in the process of progressively evolving.

Meeting business unit’s expectations:

In order to meet the business unit’s expectations, the IT division needed to set limits and avoid to promise what cannot be delivered. Formalizing the delivery model of IT initiatives by introducing defined quarterly work plans that are approved and prioritized by the business unit representatives (what is internally called the steering committee) based on their needs and the capacity of the IT division. The required outputs proved to be successful as it delivered what the client expects and wants. This model worked more effectively than the previous process that took place in preceding years where the flow of requests from the business units was higher than the IT division’s capacity to deliver the outputs.

The latest IT division reports have shown that 90% of successful delivery was achieved during the last quarter of 2015 with a high level of overall customer satisfaction.

Matrix management model:

The division historically operated in a very hierarchical, “Silo” based structure which resulted in lack of information flow between groups or parts of the division and limited the interactions between members of different branches of the division, thus leading to reduced productivity.

The IT division introduced a Matrix management model to provide a flexible management structure that allows the division to be more adaptive to change and uncertainty. It encouraged innovation and fast action through expediting information to the employees who need the information and know how to use it. Furthermore, matrix management allowed the IT division to leverage vast resources while remaining task/delivery orientated. The division gave the responsibility for the upper management level to work in a horizontal manner to ensure effective IT Operations; IT Project/development; IT Architecture; IT Service management; and IT Contracts management. In addition Quality assurance and Budget and Planning was included in the IT division’s responsibility in a horizontal manner to be able to maximize the zero defect delivery through independent QA, and report on budget and planning through a horizontal non silo based vertical model.

The matrix structure broke the “silo” effect and lead to a high sense of personal empowerment. Managers of project groups and managers of functional groups have roughly equal authority within the division. Team leaders are now more likely to be involved in solving complex problems, meeting ambitious goals, and making key decisions.

Continuous Communication:

In order to avoid lack of information to be filled by rumours during a period of change, communication, communication, and communication was key to alleviate the fear of change. The management of the division setup bi-weekly meetings with all team leaders, staff and non-staff on a regular frequency to promote a continuous flow of two way communications. If employees are effectively communicating their fears to co-workers and leaders within the division the concerns can be addressed and calmed through more communications.

On a final note, the above was a small subset of the changes that took place during 2015 and there is much more work to be done in the near future. The change and progress introduced to date has been welcomed by many in the organization and should show more measurable results in the near future.

[References: http://www.cio.com/article/2947863/leadership-management/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-bi-modal-it.html http://www.cio.com/article/2875803/cio-role/what-gartner-s-bimodal-it-model-means-to-enterprise-cios.html ]

Author: Omar Hajjar (Senior IT officer)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
The views expressed in this information product are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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