Transform from within

In order to inspire change within others we can use ourselves as an example. This rings true whether we are dragging our friend to the gym, showing our child how to learn from mistakes or asking our business to become more agile and adopt a digital way of working.


The IT group within our company is one of the few areas that sees the organisation as a whole, and in turn is seen by the organisation as a whole. By transforming to a more Digital and Agile way of working within IT we can inspire the whole company, explain the tools available and show results (and learn from our mistakes…) all before we start looking at other business units.


Hopefully there will be a department or team that are encouraged enough by our success that they will agree to be next on the list for transformation, but we should not necessarily take the first offer. Diligence will pay dividends here, the next department, team or process to be transformed must be the one with the highest chance of success and good publicity. Succeeding outside of IT should give us excellent momentum and help win whole business buy in.


Back to transforming IT - As with everything, there is no one answer here. The type of business we are in, it's geographic location, and maturity across the technology and management spheres will all impact our trajectory.


We might not all be headed on quite the same path, or even to the same destination, but we should all be starting here - Getting the basics right, thats the right people doing the right job, Operations ticking along nicely and project work/development visible and under control.

In real terms this will probably translate into stable systems with few major or critical incidents being logged, an up to date technology stack with a roadmap for keeping it so, acceptable performance across the entire technology estate, tested processes and procedures in place for handling change, incidents and risk, an appropriate financial management plan that aims to bring the cost of per head spend down and monitors by exception, business wide reporting and action on key KPI/SLA, generally happy customers (Both internal and external), and an effective staff management and development plan.

If we don't have the above, then there is little point in poring effort into transformation as we will be building on foundations of sand.


So, assuming that the basics are under control, let's look forwards to building on them. The metrics/reporting we have already mentioned are where we are going to start. They will show us where to start improving and in which order to move. Clearly you want to progress in a logical and measured manner, so if you have any outliers that have been highlighted you may need to deal with them before you can move onto the next logical block.


With a roadmap starting to take shape, have a look around at your competitors, industry trends and new technology. There is no point in creating something from scratch if someone else has already done it, because we can learn from their successes and their failures. Allow this research to further shape our roadmap, then make sure we spend some time working out how we are going to prove to ourselves and our business that the changes are having a positive impact. It's focusing on these results and then publicising them that will start to bring positive attention to our transformation activities.


With the roadmap in place and a good idea of what is needed, why, how it will be delivered and when we can secure a budget and start to implement.


With implementation under way we must make sure that we are listening to those doing the work and those affected by it. If we learn and fail fast then we can still achieve our outcome in reasonable time and cost. If your new self service system has not been implemented as you had hoped, or the account management and support teams for that key product have turned out to be unable to provide want you thought you had purchased then you need to do something about it.


This does not mean pulling the plug on the install or contract and turning away from the supplier. This can be costly and very time consuming. Opening a dialogue with the supplier and explaining that you want to work with them in resolving the issues is often the way to go. I have been surprised on several occasions how far even big names in the industry will go in order to resolve issues and complete a project with a happy customer (and solid reference site!).


I firmly believe that if you don't ask you don't get. This extends to post implementation as well. Join or create user groups for your key products, that way you can often shape the next patch or release to be of benefit for you as you expand what you are doing with a product or rolling it out to another team with slightly different requirements.


Now that we are rolling out a steady controlled stream of change with solid feedback loops and delegated decision making in place we have the foundations for a continually changing and improving organisation. As mentioned at the beginning, the methods used for the IT org can and should be used in the rest of the business, and you will have the benefit of experience when in an awkward spot with a difficult colleague or meeting.