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Information Technology initiatives continue to challenge companies, financially and organizationally, resulting in out-of-scope and costly initiatives that deliver little measurable business value …

Information Technology initiatives continue to challenge companies, financially and organizationally, resulting in out-of-scope and costly initiatives that deliver little measurable business value back to the organization. This trend has led to a well-defined gap between business and technology resulting in misguided and inefficient operations. In this qualitative
study, four research questions guided my data collection and analysis: why do technology initiatives present institutional challenges, who is involved in determining the business need and technology selection, how is the ROI of a technology initiative determined and is the technology department seen as a strategic business unit and included in designing, developing
and driving strategic initiatives. Analysis of data collected for this study yielded four main themes: a lack of leadership, including the misalignment of business and technology objectives and goals; a lack of change management; an inability to value IT initiatives, and a lack of general
business knowledge among IT professionals. Together, these themes raise critical implications for understanding the business-technology gap. I offer recommendations and a framework, which I refer to as an IT Optimized Business Approach, and I describe how forward-thinking business methodologies can help address this gap, thus helping companies develop defensible IT initiatives that deliver business value back to the enterprise.

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  • 1. IT SYNTHESIS 1 ABSTRACT OF THESISIT SYNTHESIS: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO IMPROVING THE SUCCESS RATE OF IT INITIATIVES IN SMALL TO MEDUIM SIZED COMPANIES Information Technology initiatives continue to challenge companies, financially andorganizationally, resulting in out-of-scope and costly initiatives that deliver little measureablebusiness value back to the organization. This trend has led to a well-defined gap betweenbusiness and technology resulting in misguided and inefficient operations. In this qualitativestudy, four research questions guided my data collection and analysis: why do technologyinitiatives present institutional challenges, who is involved in determining the business needand technology selection, how is the ROI of a technology initiative determined and is thetechnology department seen as a strategic business unit and included in designing, developingand driving strategic initiatives. Analysis of data collected for this study yielded four mainthemes: a lack of leadership, including the misalignment of business and technology objectivesand goals; a lack of change management; an inability to value IT initiatives, and a lack of generalbusiness knowledge among IT professionals. Together, these themes raise critical implicationsfor understanding the business-technology gap. I offer recommendations and a framework,which I refer to as an IT Optimized Business Approach, and I describe how forward-thinkingbusiness methodologies can help address this gap, thus helping companies develop defensibleIT initiatives that deliver business value back to the enterprise.
  • 2. IT SYNTHESIS 2IT SYNTHESIS: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO IMPROVING THE SUCCESS RATE OF IT INITIATIVES IN SMALL TO MEDUIM SIZED COMPANIES By Lewis Howell __________________________ Director of Thesis __________________ (Date)
  • 3. IT SYNTHESIS 3 THESIS Lewis HowellConcordia University 2010
  • 4. IT SYNTHESIS 4IT SYNTHESIS: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO IMPROVING THE SUCCESS RATE OF IT INITIATIVES IN SMALL TO MEDUIM SIZED COMPANIES ____________________________________ THESIS ____________________________________ A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Masters of Business Administration at Concordia University By Lewis Howell Bend, Oregon Director: Dr. Ann Widmer 2010
  • 5. IT SYNTHESIS 5 MASTERS THESIS PAPER I authorize the Concordia University Libraries to reproduce this thesis in whole or in part for purposes of research.Signed: _____________________Dated: ______________________
  • 6. IT SYNTHESIS 6
  • 7. IT SYNTHESIS 7 Acknowledgements I would like to thank all of the MBA professors at Concordia for helping me along thisjourney by providing new insight and a foundation for better understanding the businessenvironment. I offer special thanks and gratitude to Ann Widmer for her support and wisdom inthis final stage of my graduate work. I would like to thank the Central Oregon technologycommunity for their participation in the survey. I would also like to thank all of the intervieweesand appreciate their candor in discussing this very interesting topic. I would like to thank my co-workers for allowing me to continue to ask questions, even when it appeared that we hadexhausted the topic, and for introducing me to key resources that allowed me to proceed withthis journey. I would like to thank all of my past and current clients, as each one has andcontinues to be an influence on my consulting practice. I would like to thank my currentemployer, Cinetix Solutions, for allowing me to conduct this journey in parallel with my currentduties at the organization. On a more personal note, I want to thank my dad for his unendingentrepreneurial spirit and encouragement to ask the questions. I would like to thank mychildren, Marly and Finnegan, for their patience as I worked for hours on end with the promiseto play pirates soon! Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Amy: this thesis would not havebeen possible without her help and guidance.
  • 8. IT SYNTHESIS 8 List of FiguresFigure 1. Characterization of the IT function ..............................................................................................32Figure 2. Frequency of IT and HR collaboration on adoption strategies.....................................................33Figure 3. Characterization of IT function within corporate strategy...........................................................34Figure 4. IT consultation with regards to new systems...............................................................................35Figure 5. Do you have an Enterprise Architecture ......................................................................................36Figure 6. IT consultation with regards to new systems...............................................................................37Figure 7. Measurement of ROI ....................................................................................................................38Figure 8: Strategic Goal, Governance, IT Initiative.....................................................................................43Figure 9: Impact of change..........................................................................................................................44Figure 10: Introducing Incremental Change................................................................................................45Figure 11: Success Factors...........................................................................................................................46Figure 12: Valuations Questions .................................................................................................................48
  • 9. IT SYNTHESIS 9 Table of ContentsAcknowledgements.......................................................................................................................................7List of Figures.................................................................................................................................................8Introduction.................................................................................................................................................10Conceptual Framework ...............................................................................................................................12Methods ......................................................................................................................................................16 Interviews ................................................................................................................................................18 Interview #1 Financial Services Association – CIO/IT Managers.........................................................19 Interview #2 Healthcare Information Technology - CIO. ....................................................................19 Interview #3 Physicians’ Clinic Information Technology - CEO. ..........................................................21 Interview #4 Surgery Center Information Technology – IT Manager..................................................22 Interview #5 Manufacturing Technology - CIO. ..................................................................................23 Survey ......................................................................................................................................................23Findings .......................................................................................................................................................25 Interviews ................................................................................................................................................25 Interview #1 Financial Services Association – CIO/IT Manager. .........................................................25 Interview #2 Healthcare Information Technology - CIO. ....................................................................26 Interview #3 Physicians’ Clinic Information Technology - CEO. ..........................................................28 Interview #4 Surgery Center Information Technology – IT Manager..................................................29 Interview #5 Manufacturing Technology - CIO. ..................................................................................30 Survey ......................................................................................................................................................31 Themes ....................................................................................................................................................38Implications .................................................................................................................................................40Summary .....................................................................................................................................................52Appendix A ..................................................................................................................................................54Appendix B ..................................................................................................................................................56References...................................................................................................................................................60
  • 10. IT SYNTHESIS 10 Introduction Based on the current emphases in business literature on leadership and changemanagement, organizational development and workforce management—including dramaticshifts in technological innovation—it seems reasonable to assume that information technologyinitiatives would be streamlined into the organization. On the contrary, given current researchand perspectives in these areas (e.g., Christensen, 2006; Kotter, 1990, 2007; Ulrich, Zenger &Smallwood, 1999; Ulrich, Brockbank, Johnson, Sandholtz, & Younger, 2008; Wallace and Trinka,2007), the assumption that technology initiatives are streamlined into the organization, likemission critical organizational processes, requires closer examination. Based on this prior work,it is evident that technology initiatives tend to be uninformed, disconnected, out of scope andcostly–presenting an institutional challenge for most organizations. In fact, it is arguablewhether any quantitative or qualitative value is being realized from these technologyinvestments. Keen (1997) holds that IT initiatives fail to deliver results even with tremendousinvestment and innovative solutions. However, this is not due to ineffective solutions or badtechnology. Rather, it is due to a disconnect between business strategy, organizationaldevelopment and IT – a gap that leads to ineffective execution and operational inefficiencies. InEnterprise Architecture as Strategy, Ross, Weill and Robertson (2006) promote the idea thatcompanies that fail to bridge this gap are less agile and less competitive. In today’s world ofmergers, acquisitions, globalization and a rapidly changing business landscape, it is not anoption to overlook the potential competitive advantages that can be realized from improvingthis capability. This well-defined gap can be solved by synthesizing people, process andtechnology into a capability and competency through an integrated approach that incorporates
  • 11. IT SYNTHESIS 11traditional business methodologies, including change management strategies, to help identify,deploy and manage successful technology initiatives. This paper is intended for an audience of business and technology professionalsinterested in developing a cohesive approach to integrating business with technology.Throughout this paper I use Information Technology (IT) and Information Systems (IS)synonymously. While there are minute differences between the two, they are usedinterchangeably within the industry, and the differences are circumstantial. In their recent CIOStudy IBM (2009) stated that “IT functions represent the lifeblood of most businesses (p. 9)”reminding us that IT is integral to the operational success of the organization. Leadership rolesin IT consist of the CIO, IT Manager and/or the Director of IT. Organizations tend to have atleast an IT manager and a CIO if they are larger than 500 employees. Information Technologyencompasses applications, software, hardware, data, and the resources required to support thesystems used to translate inputs into revenue (Christensen, 2003). Examples of such initiativesinclude the implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, HumanResources Information System (HRIS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application,Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, Enterprise content management (ECM) system or evena Point of Sale (POS) system or Accounting application. On this note, Ulrich et al. (2008) andYounger promote the idea that an HRIS system can assists HR develop key processes,connecting people and information in ways that directly translate into business success. Whilethe above is not an exhaustive list, this should give the reader an understanding of the breadth,scope and importance of what this paper addresses–the deployment of technology initiatives insupport of business operations.
  • 12. IT SYNTHESIS 12 Conceptual Framework The reliance of business on information systems has never been greater, yet it continuesto be a pain point and challenge for most companies: the challenges are as wide as they aredeep. The challenges are wide in that they impact the whole organization, operationally, anddeeper in that they touch each revenue driving activity within the organization. Sometechnology initiatives, such as, a migration from one storage or file system to another arecircumstantial and transparent to the employee or the customer. In this discourse I focus onsubstantial technology initiatives that include EHR, CRM, ERP and enterprise collaborationssystems and applications. These applications represent typical initiatives that help translateinputs and processes into revenues and require substantial investment in time and resources.The significance of this work rests in its theoretical connections with prior work in the area ofsuccessful business theories. Namely, successful companies share common characteristics withrespect to how they manage, operate and execute. My work has been largely influenced byleadership and change management strategies, organizational development practices andcurrent workforce management theories. In their research, Ross et al. (2006) found that companies that fail to adopt technologiesthat connect people and process lose their competitive edge and subsequently lose marketshare. They promote the idea that organizations that fail to develop a platform for execution(series of centralized and integrated applications) will fail to grow revenues, which leaves theorganization vulnerable to competitors and disruption. Similarly, Christensen (2003) points outthat business suffer a similar vulnerability when they fail to develop their internal resources
  • 13. IT SYNTHESIS 13(people) and capabilities (unique and defensible processes). In response, many organizationstend to opt for technological change based upon industry trend or customer demand. Healthcare is a sector that is currently experiencing challenges associated withtransformational technological change. A Federal incentive plan has motivated the healthcareindustry to transition to electronic health records (EHR) systems within the next few years.Backed by strong financial incentives, hospitals and physician’s practices are mobilizing their ITdepartments to deploy EHR systems. This reactive approach has resulted in many failedimplementations and led to a reduction in the quality of care, high employee turnover and aloss of revenue. In Healthcare, this has become the norm and IT is left with the baggage and theblame. This is not an isolated case and spans across all ERP and CRM implementations.Krigsman (2009) notes that most of the CRM implementations over the past few years havefailed with the primary blame on the tools and technology –not disconnected and uninformedefforts. In their timely novel, Ross and Weill note that if “IT is not a strategic asset, IT is astrategic liability (Weill & Ross, 2009, pp. Loc 180-84).” Good leadership and management are imperative to the success of an organization andthe catalyst for change. However, Kotter (1990) notes that leaders and managers servefundamentally different roles within the organization –both necessary but fundamentallydifferent. He holds that leaders need to focus on change and direction while managers dealwith the complexity of the organization. Put a different way, leaders focus on the “what” whilemanagers focus on the “how.” In today’s economy, where products and services are sourcedglobally and delivered locally, competition is fierce requiring companies to get to market fast
  • 14. IT SYNTHESIS 14and efficiently with the right balance of leadership and management. Leaders not only setdirection but also prepare the organization for change distributing the responsibility across theleadership team (Ancona, 2008). Change is necessary in all companies, especially environmentswhere new innovations or technological breakthroughs can lead to increasing returns. Creatinga culture of change becomes mandatory and Kotter (2007) promotes eight steps totransforming the organization: establishing a sense of urgency, forming a powerful guidingcoalition, creating a vision, communicating the vision, empowering others to act on the vision,planning for and creating short term wins, consolidating improvements and producing stillmore change and institutionalizing new approaches. It is through these eight steps that leaderscan effectively enact and re-enact change throughout their organization –creating a culture ofchange. However, people are at the heart of all change efforts, and the people and employeesdetermine if the change aligns with their goals, aspirations and direction. Wallace and Trinka(2007) point out that people do not mind change: they mind “being changed” (p. 73). Leadersmust focus on individual change, specifically, how the organization will address personal change–the “what’s in it for me.” I am not insinuating that we focus our time and energies on one-to-one personal change relationships, but rather, developing organizational cultures that reflectthe personal needs of the employees and the company. The individual employee is an integral part of the whole. It is up to the leaders andmanagers to develop organizations that operate in harmony with business goals – service for aprofit at a risk. A significant amount of business literature has focused on developing theorganization. Ulrich, Zenger and Smallwood (1999) stress that developing people intoorganizations, where the whole is greatly more effective than the sum of the individual
  • 15. IT SYNTHESIS 15resources is key to the success of the enterprise. In that reasoning, organizational developmentrequires leadership to develop internal cultures that reflect the mission and vision of theorganization. The result is an organizational culture that knows what is important, how to makedecisions and what change or initiatives are important to the organization (Christensen, 2003).This organizational culture reflects the values, beliefs, and behaviors of the leaders andmanagers (Wallace & Trinka, 2007). These organizational capabilities deliver consistent andsustainable results (Ulrich et al., 2009). Managing people and driving change throughout the organization requires effectiveleadership and a clear organizational development effort. To deliver on this framework requiresa significant amount of time and energy, including dedicated resources to help train, monitorand measure the results. Human Resources (HR), specifically, Workforce Management (WM),has emerged as the natural catalyst for helping develop this environment. The traditional roleof HR has consisted of administering to the needs of the employee, from pay role and benefitsprocessing to the facilitation of employee rights and responsibilities. Given HR’s intimateknowledge of the employee, Ulrich et al (2008) notes that HR is well positioned to redefinetheir traditional HR role into one that helps deliver on higher value activities, such as changemanagement, strategy execution and organizational development. Ulrich et al move HR intofour primary roles: strategic partner, administrative expert, employee champion and changeagent. These new HR roles become the vehicle for driving strategic efforts, through trainingsand employee development, driving change via well-choreographed efforts between leadershipand management, and helping ensure the alignment between the employee and theorganization.
  • 16. IT SYNTHESIS 16 The current study is an attempt to understand why technology initiatives continue tohave a profound impact on the enterprise, financially and operationally. The continual failure ofIT initiatives has led to a devaluing of IT services and the idea that IT doesn’t matter (Carr,2003). Carr (2003) wrote a compelling article on this topic concluding that investment in IT doesnot result in clear competitive advantages. In fact, he promotes the idea that IT, in its currentform will cease to exist. Considering the breadth of the problem, I was interested as to whysuch an integral part of the organization continues to be a challenge for the majority oforganizations. These issues prompted me to ask four targeted questions of technology leadersand executives: • Why do technology initiatives present institutional challenges? • Who is involved in determining the business need and technology selection? • How is the ROI of a technology initiative determined? • Is the technology department seen as a strategic business unit and included in designing, developing and driving strategic initiatives? These research questions helped me frame and anchor my discussions and research. Itwas through investigating these questions that I was able to develop a new understanding ofthe dynamics associated with technology initiatives, their role in the organization and thequalities characterizing successful and unsuccessful initiatives. Methods My research methods for this project consisted of targeted interviews and surveys.Combined, these resources provided key insight into the problem and a dynamic data set to
  • 17. IT SYNTHESIS 17analyze. I interviewed leadership from healthcare, banking and manufacturing –industrieswhere IT systems are mission critical to the success of the organization; from quality of care, tosupply chain and distribution to financial intelligence. Each of these individuals had at least 20years of experience identifying, deploying and supporting business technology initiatives. Inaddition to these common traits, each leader had a unique set of experiences and standardpractices for driving technology initiatives within their organization. The interviewees consistedof CIO’s, IT managers and CEO’s of small to medium sized enterprises. In some cases, theseinterviews led me in different and unique directions, including research from additionalsources, including a detour into Lean Six Sigma. The premise of Lean Six Sigma is to drive outinefficiencies through measurable and action oriented speed and quality initiatives (George,Rowlands, & Kastle, 2004). Surveys were utilized before group interviews and as a tool tocollect information from a broader audience. Before group interviews, I was able to capture acurrent state understanding of their unique environment, their role within the organization andtheir aptitude for managing technological change within the organization. This helped guide theconversation while at the same time providing valuable information for substantiating myfindings. The survey also allowed me to poll a much larger audience, giving me a broader viewof technology initiatives across industries. Current research, books and articles helped evolvemy thinking and greatly enhanced my ability to analyze the results –from Ulrich to Hubbard andCIO studies from IBM to Ross, Weill and Robertson. The combination of interviews, surveys andspeaking engagements provided a unique look into an issue that is tough to understand andquantify. However, after analysis I was able to develop a unique framework and integratedapproach for developing successful technology initiatives.
  • 18. IT SYNTHESIS 18 In the next four sections, I outline each interview in a mini case study format. Eachinterview follows a narrative format, outlining the culture of the organization, the technologicalenvironment and challenges to date.Interviews I conducted one group interview and four individual interviews. In each setting Ipresented questions in a conversational format. I logged interviews in the project notebook forsubsequent analysis. Select questions included the following prompts (please see Appendix Afor protocol): • What is your title? • What is the role of technology, specifically information systems within your company? • What is the general perception of technology within your organization? • Is your department seen as a strategic business unit? • How do you determine the IT initiatives to execute? • How do you measure the success of a technology initiative? • Does workforce management (HR) play a key role in developing user adoption strategies? • How do you measure the ROI of a technology initiative?The interviews evolved into discussions surrounding the deployment of technology initiativesand associated outcomes. In one case, a CIO explored three such deployments across 3different companies.
  • 19. IT SYNTHESIS 19 Interview #1 Financial Services Association – CIO/IT Managers. As part of aspeaker lineup, I had the opportunity to conduct a group discussion with a statewide FinancialServices Association on Information Technology initiatives. This forum lasted an hour, with onehour Q/A following the presentation. Before the meeting, I was given the opportunity to sendout a survey, designed to develop a current state understanding of the group and to capturerelevant, industry specific information. The group conversation centered on the benefitsassociated with key information technology initiatives, including business process automationstrategies where key managers could extract a new data set that could lead to key businessinsight. An example of such an application, or process, would include a call tracking applicationthat captured the voice of the customer; problems, concerns and even positive experiences andproduct enhancement requests. By consolidating this information in one place managementcould better understand their customer and validate their strategy and course of action. Thisgroup conversation led to some interesting findings. Interview #2 Healthcare Information Technology - CIO. Introduced through acolleague in the technology sector, I spoke with a CIO of a successful healthcare company in thesouthwest who successfully managed large scale technology initiatives across the healthcareindustry. In our conversation, she described three different initiatives, each of which she wasthe CIO working directly with the executive team and associated stakeholders. Each initiativerepresented a paradigm shift in operations for each of the companies discussed, and eachexperienced unique challenges and results.
  • 20. IT SYNTHESIS 20 At each organization, she was CIO and tasked with conducting large scale ElectronicHealthcare Records (EHR) implementations. Like many healthcare organizations, these hospitalsused information technology to connect individuals, secure data and manage financial data.Patient data and charts were stored in paper form and processes were primarily paper basedand, in some cases, tracked electronically. This change represented a paradigm shift fromcurrent business operations. In Company A, the CIO transitioned into an organization that reflected the current state ofmany healthcare organizations; legacy systems and paper driven processes. However, thisorganization was different in that leadership had identified a business need to move to an EHR,and the required investment, in capital and resources, to make it a reality. The CIO developed abudget, timeframe and a strategic team to drive and manage the efforts –pulling from worldrenowned consulting firms. This implementation was supported from the top and the CIO wasempowered with the resources to drive the change throughout the organization. This was ahighly successful implementation. After the successful deployment and integration at Company A, the CIO moved to asmaller hospital (Company B) where they required similar transformative change. Company Bwas a regional non-profit healthcare organization. At this organization, the CIO was part of across functional team tasked with the selection, implementation and integration of an EHRsolution. While she was part of a well-balanced cross functional team, the system selectiondecision was driven from the top and not upon the integration or long term benefits of thesolution. System selection was driven by external factors that failed to map to internal business
  • 21. IT SYNTHESIS 21requirements (organizational), including the long term strategy of the organization. The CIOwas tasked with the development, integration and deployment of the solution. EHR’s areframeworks, or rather, building blocks, with which to develop a custom healthcare solution.This framework is designed to wrap around unique business requirements and processes,requiring a massive amount of collaboration across the organization to develop an integratedplatform of services. As described by the CIO, this effort challenged the organization andultimately led to a pause in deployment. Many of the challenges were attributed to wrongmotivations and an inability to get buy-in horizontally and vertically across the organization. Atthe end of the day, millions of dollars later, the initiative failed. At Company C, the CIO was tasked with a similar task, deploying a comprehensive EHRplatform for a large metropolitan hospital in the Southwest. Armed with her experiences fromtwo other implementations, the CIO commenced with developing a defensible ROI within theorganization to map a quantifiable return back to the proposed efforts. Together, we reviewedthe ROI’s and there were strong financials to back-up each line item, however, they were fairlysoft –meaning that the numbers were estimates and not backed by defensible data. The reasonfor this was no current state data, or rather hard data that could be verified, tested andmeasured moving forward. This is not uncommon and is a pain point for a lot of proposedtechnology initiatives. The CIO was in a new situation, in the beginning of the process andchallenged by developing a defensible ROI. Interview #3 Physicians’ Clinic Information Technology - CEO. A physicians’clinic was tasked with hiring a new CEO to help them take the next steps by improving
  • 22. IT SYNTHESIS 22performance and initiating the implementation of an EHR. The new CEO stated that his biggestgoal over the next three years was the implementation the EHR. The time horizon seemed outof proportion to the benefits associated with the immediate implementation and we had aconversation on the topic. His response was that the organization was not prepared for theamount of change introduced by an EHR, no matter the proposed benefits. In fact, he statedthat the transition to an EHR starts years before the implementation. His primary goal was tointroduce change into the organization immediately. He began by encouraging people tochange their work environment to promote efficiencies, “Don’t like the cart there? Let’s moveit.” He noted that the technological change would not be an issue once he built anorganizational culture of change. A culture of change would enable the organization to alleviatemany of the challenges associated with the paradigm shift introduced by an EHR and a changein the operating model. This mature and innovative perspective was the result of leadingchallenging EHR efforts for much larger change resistant organizations. Interview #4 Surgery Center Information Technology – IT Manager. At the timeof the interview, this large surgery center was undergoing an EHR implementation driven by aninternal project manager and Director of IT. It was good timing as they were in the middle ofthe implementation with good visibility into the current status. The Director of IT noted that theimplementation was consuming a lot of resources and taking a lot of time to complete. Ofparticular note was the amount of custom development required to uplift the EHR to a pointthat it was useable within the organization. After a significant amount of effort and a lot ofinternal challenges, the platform was released into production in a phased approach. Success todate was tough to determine, and the Director of IT stated that they lacked clear visibility into
  • 23. IT SYNTHESIS 23user adoption, results and outcomes. He noted that one of the toughest challenges was gettingthe key stakeholders (physicians) to utilize the software. From the conversation, it was evidentthat the information systems team saw the implementation as a challenge, but surmountable.However, what they found was a transformative change effort that was very difficult to manageand support. Interview #5 Manufacturing Technology - CIO. M&A manufacturing is a largeorganization that recently underwent a major overhaul of their systems and software. Thecurrent CIO was intimately involved in the planning and the deployment of the effort. He notedthat the majority of their challenges could be mapped back to systemic change within theorganization –changes that impacted how people conducted day to day operations. Consideringthat this organization was currently on the brink of identifying a new ERP and POS system, Iasked what he felt the most challenging part of the process would be. Before answering thequestion he noted that all initiatives, whether IT or not, mapped back to strategic objectives.His point was well taken in that if the initiative had been selected, it would receive thenecessary resources to be driven throughout to fruition.Survey The second method for collecting data was through a survey submitted to a financialservice association and a local community of Information Technology professionals. The TechSurvey (See Appendix B for complete survey) was intended for an audience of IT Directors andconsisted of 10 targeted questions. Tied to the guiding research questions, the Tech Survey wasdesigned to help better understand institutional challenges.
  • 24. IT SYNTHESIS 24 To better understand the research question, “Why do technology initiatives presentinstitutional challenges” I included specific survey items assessing strategic alignment,consultative role and integrated approach –including an Enterprise Architecture. There are twotargeted questions used to better understand the gap. • How would you characterize the IT function? • Is it common for IT to work in conjunction with HR/Workforce Management to develop user adoption strategies when deploying a new technology? To better understand “Who is involved in determining the business need andtechnology selection?” I asked “Is the IT function consulted before new systems are identified,purchased and implemented?” While this question also aligns with corporate strategic efforts italso helps us better understand the role that IT plays in understanding how the technology willfit in the current operating environment – integrated, siloed, centralized or decentralized. To better understand “How is the ROI of a technology initiative determined?” I posedthe survey question “How do you measure the proposed ROI of a technology initiative?” To get at the research question, “Is the technology department seen as a strategicbusiness unit and included in designing, developing and driving strategic initiatives?” I askedrespondents to consider 3 survey questions: • How would you characterize the IT function within the corporate strategy of your company?
  • 25. IT SYNTHESIS 25 • Is the IT function consulted before new systems are identified, purchased and implemented? • Do you have an Enterprise Architecture (EA)? To conclude data collection, I reviewed notes and interview summaries with an eyetoward common trends and unique experiences. Through a recursive process of applyingguiding research questions to the data, several themes emerged. In the following section Idiscuss these findings before raising critical implications for these themes. FindingsInterviews Each interview provided insight into the integration of technology into the organization.In this section, I present findings from each of the interviews. Interview #1 Financial Services Association – CIO/IT Manager. All participants wereinterested in developing successful technology initiatives, including business processautomation strategies; however, many were challenged by their change adverse cultures,budgets and executive level buy-in. These immediate hurdles presented a large issue to thetechnology professionals and represented institutional challenge for the financial servicesindustry. On a similar note, while systems were in place to manage customer deposits andtransactions, all technology was designed to track paper processes and events. While there wasa compelling value proposition to develop well defined and consistent technology improvementstrategies, many participants felt that they lacked the language to promote such strategicinitiatives. It should be noted that some of the companies had a technology problem, in that
  • 26. IT SYNTHESIS 26they did not have the systems in place to support new process improvement strategies, such aselectronic forms or enterprise content management. Considering that the majority of theparticipants lacked the building blocks or rather what Ross, Weill and Robertson (2006) wouldcall an Enterprise Architecture (EA) to support these initiatives, the conversation evolved into adiscussion surrounding return on investment (ROI) –or rather “how to get there.” For many,they felt that if they had a way to measure the proposed financial success of their initiative theycould get the buyoff needed to proceed with bigger and more substantial efforts. On a similarnote, a high percentage of all participants lacked a clear vision of how their department fitwithin the strategic fold of the company. In summary, the financial services companies, while mature, were averse to change andlacked a strong connection between their business strategy and technology. On that note, thetechnologists admitted that they lacked the language required to have a business conversation,or rather a conversation centered on process improvements strategies that would result inoperational efficiencies. Interview #2 Healthcare Information Technology - CIO. At Company A, the CIO waspositioned for success. The EHR initiative was mapped to the company’s strategic objectivesand the change was driven and supported from the top. Upon reflection, the following led tothe success of the initiative: • IT seen as a strategic business unit • Clear recognition of the long term value
  • 27. IT SYNTHESIS 27 • Clear success factors - Understanding of how the initiative mapped back to patient care and quality of care • Leadership’s involvement in the day to day evangelization of the tools, their fit within the organization and what it meant to each and every employee within the organization • Change management initiatives driven by people centered teams combined with teams dedicated to developing long term buy-in across the enterprise – clear understanding of what she referred to as the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) • Strong project PR • Mapping the initiative’s success back to a bonus structure At company B, the CIO was challenged by an organization and board that recognized theneed for change, but mismanaged the impact and required efforts that it would have onmanagement, the employees and the organization. The CIO noted a misinformed technologyselection process and inability of the executive team to grasp the transformative nature of theinitiative. The CIO and an additional stakeholder noted the following challenges in the ITinitiative: • Top down command and control approach (rip, replace and deploy) • Technology seen as necessary change, not a tool to enhance services or improve the quality of care • Disconnection between business and technology leadership • Little understanding of how the organization would respond to change • No change management
  • 28. IT SYNTHESIS 28 • No current state data leading to no effective way to measure success • No attempt at measuring outcomes or rather no time nor predetermined checkpoints At Company C, the CIO moved back into a position of defining the ROI for an EHRimplementation. She was challenged by a similar change adverse culture combined with little tono current state, or quantifiable data of their operational environment. Such data might includethe amount of time required for patient check-in, including the associated processes requiredto mobilize staff. This data would assist in determining how an electronic process mightpromote efficiencies (automated alerts and workflows) to promote timely and accurate service.There is a tangible value to this information. The delta or rather changes, might in factrepresent a 20% decrease in the amount of time required to get a patient serviced. The resultswould include a satisfied patient, more accurate information and more informed diagnosis. TheCIO noted that it was going to take a bit of work to collect this data. However, her currentstrategy reflected lessons learned from previous hospitals, including a methodical approach todeveloping a culture of change. In fact she appeared to have slowed her approach and wasfocusing on a crawl-walk-run approach. Interview #3 Physicians’ Clinic Information Technology - CEO. The CEO introduced alot of very interesting concepts and ideas that might help in answering the outstandingquestion of bridging the business/technology gap. The focus on change was very compelling,and connected back to initiatives led by the Case Study #2 CIO. One of the most interestingconcepts was the use of Lean Six Sigma. While used in manufacturing for over 20 years, thisconcept has just recently been making its way into service oriented industries; lending itself to
  • 29. IT SYNTHESIS 29helping quantify the success of change management initiatives (George, Rowlands, & Kastle,2004). This CEO convinced me that change management was crucial to the success of anytechnology initiative and that creating a culture of change was required before introducing anoperational change. Interview #4 Surgery Center Information Technology – IT Manager. This interviewexplored an interesting combination of challenges driven by the introduction of transformativechange though the introduction of an EHR. A technology designed to streamline businessprocesses, improve revenue cycle and patient care –was not delivering as promised, by neitherthe vendor nor IT. The doctors (key stakeholders) perceived that they were buying a piece ofsoftware that would wrap around their operating model, when in reality they were changingthe foundation of their practice and how they serviced patients. Of particular interest was theassumption that the technology would deliver the results, not the people. In fact, this ideaovershadowed the initiative and led to the devaluing of the technological effort. The doctors,who were also the board of directors, saw the implementation as a necessity and helped drivethe effort from the top down. While there was an understanding of potential efficiencies, likethe reduction in headcount (below the line cost reductions), there appeared to be no tangibleconnection between improved patient care or quality of care and revenue. Nor was there anyunderstanding of how the EHR would change the way they serviced their patients. Ultimately,adoption of the technology was a challenge, especially for the doctors, who in some cases haddifficulty using and integrating the tools into their practice.
  • 30. IT SYNTHESIS 30 Interview #5 Manufacturing Technology - CIO. This CIO was very much aligned with theCase Study #2 CIO in that they were both operating from the perspective of complete executivelevel buy in and strong user integration strategies. Different than other interviewees, many ofthe initiatives described by this CIO were methodically laid out and long term in nature with astandardized approach. On that note, the time horizon was generally longer than normal, 3+/-years, and included extensive planning. The well-defined implementation process appeared todeliver predictable, successful, results. When asked about ROI, the CIO responded that therewas not one or rather, no good way of determining a real ROI. From the conversation, Icaptured the following areas of importance: • Creating a cross functional technology selection team to be intimately involved in identifying a comprehensive solution • Identifying the best internal talent to help configure and optimize the system • Training strategies designed to drive adoption • Creating a bonus structure that mapped back to effective use and implementation of the system • Rewarding employees for their use and integration of the tools – “putting them on a pedestal” for the rest of the company to observe and learn from • Bringing in experts, throughout the process, to ensure that they received the most innovative solutions available
  • 31. IT SYNTHESIS 31Survey Of the 13 respondents, which included professionals in healthcare, banking,communications, state and local government and manufacturing, 100% answered all surveyquestions. To better understand the research question, “Why do technology initiatives presentinstitutional challenges” we have to consider all questions, including strategic alignment,consultative role and integrated approach –including an Enterprise Architecture. However,there are two targeted questions used to better understand the gap. • How would you characterize the IT function? • Is it common for IT to work in conjunction with HR/Workforce Management to develop user adoption strategies when deploying a new technology? To better understand the nature of the technology units I asked respondents to consider“How would you characterize the IT function?” The goal of this question was to understand thegeneral nature of the IT function. As can be seen in Figure 1, the vast majority responded that ITwas split between a reactive and proactive approach. These results led me to conclude that themajority of the respondents operated in a reactive mode, leveraging proactive methods(monitoring, trouble ticket systems). This conclusion is founded on the logic that a proactivestate would in fact not overlap with reactive behavior.
  • 32. IT SYNTHESIS 32Figure 1. Characterization of the IT function Building upon this line of thought, it is important to understand the alignment betweenthe technology function and HR/ workforce management. The idea is to get visibility intocollaboration across business units and how committed the organization is to promoting anintegrated approach. As can be seen in Figure 2, the majority of the respondents worked inconjunction with HR or workforce management, sometimes or on a periodic basis. These resultsindicate that there are conversations and collaboration happening between the technologydepartment and business units, however, it is tough to determine the specific nature of theseconversations or their impact on the success of the initiative.
  • 33. IT SYNTHESIS 33Figure 2. Frequency of IT and HR collaboration on adoption strategies To get at the question, “Is the technology department seen as a strategic business unitand included in designing, developing and driving strategic initiatives?” I asked respondents toconsider 3 questions: • How would you characterize the IT function within the corporate strategy of your company? • Is the IT function consulted before new systems are identified, purchased and implemented? • Do you have an Enterprise Architecture (EA)?
  • 34. IT SYNTHESIS 34 In response to “How would you characterize the IT function within the corporatestrategy of your company?” Figure 3 shows that 30% of the respondents responded as closelyaligned, with 61.5% Cooperative Partners, 0% limited involvement and 7.7% unrelated. Closelyaligned represented those that felt that the technology department was integral to thebusiness or rather strategically aligned. Cooperative partners represented those that felt thatthey were project partners and key stakeholders in the initiative. Limited involvementrepresented those that felt isolated and disconnected from the organization. Unrelatedrepresents a population that feels that technology is not a business driver.Figure 3. Characterization of IT function within corporate strategy
  • 35. IT SYNTHESIS 35 To better understand the consultative role of IT within the organization, I askedrespondents to consider, “Is the IT function consulted before new systems are identified,purchased and implemented?” Noted in Figure 4, that majority of the respondents were splitbetween always and most of the time.Figure 4. IT consultation with regards to new systems The third and final question in this series, “Do you have an Enterprise Architecture(EA)?” was intended to develop a sense of the progressive nature of those polled. The idea wasto flush out those that were intimately involved in developing what we will refer to as a
  • 36. IT SYNTHESIS 36platform for execution and those that were not. As can be seen in Figure 5, 46.2% responded“yes”, 23.1 “no” with 30.8 “not sure.”Figure 5. Do you have an Enterprise Architecture To better understand “Who is involved in determining the business need andtechnology selection?” I asked “Is the IT function consulted before new systems are identified,purchased and implemented?” While this question also aligns with corporate strategic efforts italso helps us better understand the role that IT plays in understanding how the technology willfit in with the current systems – integrated, siloed and/or centralized or decentralized. As wecan see from the results in Figure 6, the IT function was generally consulted at the initial stage.
  • 37. IT SYNTHESIS 37From the results, I question the ambiguity of the “most of the time” answers in that this highpercentage needs explanation and could mean that the wide majority of the time, IT is in factnot consulted.Figure 6. IT consultation with regards to new systems To better understand the question of ROI, I posed the question “How do you measurethe proposed ROI of a technology initiative”? Figure 7 resulted in 41.7% responding “Predefinedand balanced process owned by IT and Finance”, 16.7% “Finance handles that, ask them”,41.7% “Not sure.” Write-ins included: “ROI isnt the predominate determining factor” and“Depends on the project...capital items typically get more ROI attention.” For the purposes of
  • 38. IT SYNTHESIS 38this discussion, approximately 60% of the respondents did not have a handle on ROI, and/or thelarger impact of the technology initiative. This information tells a compelling story about theinvolvement of the technology department in combination with strategic business efforts.Figure 7. Measurement of ROIThemes While all of the interviews and surveys revealed valuable information, there were a fewcommon themes across the data set. • Lack of strategic alignment of business and technology objectives and goals
  • 39. IT SYNTHESIS 39 • Lack of change Management • Inability to value technology initiatives • Lack of general business knowledge in IT and the role of IT within the organizationIn this section I discuss each of the above themes and explore how they impact organizationalprocesses. The first theme is a lack of leadership and the misalignment of business and technologyobjectives and goals. Seen across all data sets, this theme sets the stage for misguided anddisjointed efforts. In the healthcare setting, the EHR platform was seen as a strategic objective,however, there was a disconnect between the technology and how it would impact theorganization –including the jobs and responsibilities of the stakeholders. The second theme consisted of ineffective or no change management. As can be seenacross each EHR implementation, technology initiatives systemically impacted the operations ofthe enterprise, and this introduced a level of change that required careful planning andcollaboration across the organization. These initiatives had a profound impact on theorganizations, from the people and managers to the bottom line. As can be seen from thecases, where technology initiatives failed, there was little to no change management, andwhere successful, a well thought out change management initiative was in place. When theinitiative failed, the organizational impact was felt across the company, creating a backlash ofeffects ranging from distrust to the reinstatement of legacy systems and processes. The third theme is an inability to value the technology initiative; either during initialanalysis or post deployment. This theme was common across all interviews and survey
  • 40. IT SYNTHESIS 40respondents, presenting a substantial challenge to all IT professionals – including CIOs. Amongthe survey respondents, 40% noted that there was a predefined process between finance andIT. However, this need not insinuate that there is a defensible ROI attached to soft and hardresults. We will explore this further in the next section. The fourth theme is the inability of the majority of technology professionals to translatethe benefits of technology to the business and vice versa. What is sometimes seen as atechnology issue is nothing more than a procedural or management issue. For example, in thecase of a new EHR, processes changed and therein job responsibilities shifted. As revealed inselect interviews and surveys, technology professionals lack an intrinsic understanding of theirbusiness, failing to develop solutions that promote the mission and vision of the organization. Implications Based upon the themes previously identified, this section focuses on the implications forbusinesses, and I offer recommendations for integrating and synthesizing IT efforts withbusiness objectives. The problem does not rest in one place within the organization, but acrossthe organization as an institutional challenge; however, the challenge is not IT centric. Evidentacross all data sets are communication and collaboration challenges flowing between businessand IT. At each organization, there is either a gap in leadership and strategic alignment, changemanagement, valuation, or an inability to translate business and IT requirements into onecohesive and strategic activity– or all four.
  • 41. IT SYNTHESIS 41Implications for lack of Strategic Alignment When IT initiatives fail to map back to the strategic goals of the organization, myresearch suggests that technology investments will suffer from one or all of the following:inadequate planning, resourcing or funding. Lack of one of these ingredients can spell disasterfor the IT initiative and lead to a misallocation of resources. This lack of strategic alignmentfundamentally leads to a disconnect in the organizational priorities of the organization –widening the business-technology gap. To address this issue, organizations must develop strongpartnerships between the business and technology departments. This partnership isresponsible for mapping technology initiatives back to the strategic goals of the organization.When IT initiatives are mapped back to strategic goals, the initiative is positioned to receiveproper buy-in, including resources to promote a successful outcome. The research also suggeststhat when leadership is involved in the change, they have a profound impact on the success orfailure of the initiative. Leadership, the executive team, must be involved in helping align theirstrategic goals with technologies that enable them to execute their plan consistently. It needsto be noted that there is a difference between strategic objectives and strategic alignment. Ascan be seen in Case #2, Hospital 1, the EHR implementation was a strategic objective, with theobjectives mapping to strategic goals and alignment between the executive team and thetechnology initiative. Strategic alignment requires that technology conversations focus onoutcomes that build integrated systems and ultimately, an operating model that promotes thelong term mission of the organization.
  • 42. IT SYNTHESIS 42 Smaller organizations that are in growth mode tend to have difficulty developing acohesive plan for developing their technology architecture. Most believe that their existingprocess, those processes that allowed for them to become successful, will continue to deliverresults. However, what makes an organization successful today may not make a firm successfultomorrow. Business owners need to develop an understanding for how technology can lead tocompetitive advantages. IT needs to become strategic within the organization by standardizingand automating processes and thereby enabling leadership and staff to focus on more valuableactivities. In medium sized firms strategic alignment between the IT function is a necessity. Topromote this type of integration, I recommend that companies bring on a CIO (or interim CIO)to interface with the executive team to bridge the technological divide between the businessunits. This position is crucial to helping traditional leadership teams develop their ITcompetency–leading to a sustainable and unique competitive advantage. An IT governanceteam is also recommended. This cross functional team, incorporating executives, line managersand employees, is tasked with filtering through technical initiatives; mapping technicalinitiatives back to strategic goals. This integrated system helps prioritize proposed IT initiativesand map initiatives back to strategic goals (see Figure 8).
  • 43. IT SYNTHESIS 43Figure 8: Strategic Goal, Governance, IT InitiativeImplications for lack of Change Management Organizations develop their own unique cultures based upon leadership values,strategic goals, organizational structure and internal business processes. The cultures develop ashared understanding for how decisions are made and executed, their collective role and whatto expect given fluctuations in the operating environment. When change is necessary, theimpact on the organization can be significant. IT initiatives tend to touch all or part of theworkforce. When a core application changes, not only is the internal employee impacted butthe customer might also be impacted via long hold times, confusion, incorrect information andgeneral frustration (see Figure 9). The impact on the employee could equate to decreasedproductivity and job frustration. To curb potential issues surrounding technological change, Irecommend that key stakeholders be brought to the table to drive the technological change;including a well-trained leadership team. Buy-in from the top is critical, along with crossfunctional teams composed of line managers and employees to help define effective change
  • 44. IT SYNTHESIS 44management strategies. This change management team is tasked with developing an actionplan devoted to developing an organization of change.Figure 9: Impact of change To get started developing a culture of change, I recommend that organizations startwith incremental changes and high visibility quick wins (see Figure 10). Incremental changesmight begin with incremental work environment changes while others might include simpleapplication training and feedback session i.e. how-to’s and short cuts. Constant feedback is anecessity to creating winning change management initiatives. This constant feedback loopempowers the employee and helps guide change management efforts. Create constantfeedback loops through email, anonymous submission forms and user forums. Thesemechanisms help employees feel connected to the process and engaged in helping develop anddrive change. When successfully implemented, organizations start to introduce change intotheir culture, preparing their organization for more substantial change in the future.
  • 45. IT SYNTHESIS 45Figure 10: Introducing Incremental Change Empower Employees to ChangeDevelop a constant feedback loop Introduce work environment Introduce technology changes (software/application) changeTools for communication • Email • Desk and workstation Engage Employees (bring into the • Anonymous submission setup conversation) • User forums • Shared services • Training • Twitter accessibility o How-to’s • Instant Messaging • Addition of art and • Feedback sessions plants o Current challengesPromote employee collaboration • Empower employees o Employees feedbackon problems or issues to create change o Employee to employee help sessions • User FairsFor a constant feedback loop to be Leverage the feedback loop to Employees tend to feel handcuffed byeffective there must be follow-up gather ideas. Create an technology; create an environment whereon each request or submission – environment where employees leverage technology, andcreate a mechanism to prioritize employees are implementing change processes to benefit the missioneach thought or idea. constant change within their and vision of the organization environment After the organization has developed a culture of change, more substantial change canbe introduced into the organization. When implementing a system that impacts a business unitor rather the whole organization, it is important that efforts be managed in a systematic fashiondriven by leadership, HR and the employee. Change Management would be well served toexpand upon the items listed in Figure 10 to develop a cohesive strategy to empower theemployee. Success comes down to the individual and their acceptance of change. As can beseen throughout the interviews, one of the most important aspects of the approach must bedefining the WIIFM or rather the "whats in it for me" to each and every employee involved.This means that each employee, line manager and director must understand how theirresponsibilities might change, evolve and benefit. For each initiative, organizational success
  • 46. IT SYNTHESIS 46factors must match the employee success factors (see figure 11). Any gaps need to be identifiedand addressed before moving forward.Figure 11: Success FactorsImplications of not valuing the technology initiative Interviews and surveys proved that technology professionals suffer from an inability tovalue their role and the importance of technology to the sustainability of the organization. Thisinability to prove their value to the organization, and the top and bottom line, is disastrous. ITdepartments and CIO’s must work with leadership and business units to develop sound ways ofmeasuring the ROI of IT initiatives. To accomplish this, the organization must be creative inidentifying success factors and ways to defensibly measure that success. Hubbard (2007)promotes the idea that anything can be measured –once you understand what determinessuccess. One such example includes the inability of the Chicago Symphony to determinecustomer satisfaction. Many methods were examined, including surveys; however, evensurveys were determined to be insufficient. With this in mind, the Chicago Symphony decidedto measure their success by monitoring the number of standing ovations across a season. Withlittle effort, the symphony had a good sense of their performance and a simple KeyPerformance Indicator (KPI) to monitor and track their progress. This is a good example of
  • 47. IT SYNTHESIS 47measuring something that upon first glance appears un-measureable. IT initiatives fall into thiscategory. If businesses are having difficulty developing a defensible return for an IT initiative ( i.e.,it either saves money or makes money), do not proceed. Determine a good method fordeveloping an ROI that fits your business model--either financially or organizationally. Afinancial ROI shows a defensible correlation between the outlay of cash and savings per unit ofoutput. A soft ROI may lead to process efficiencies that equate to employee happiness,improved services levels and happier customers. It is helpful to think about the proposedoutcome and how it might impact the enterprise, financially and organizationally. The followingquestions can be helpful in generating an understanding on what the initiative will deliver backto the organization.
  • 48. IT SYNTHESIS 48Figure 12: Valuations Questions Hard ROI’s (financial) are important, but in some cases soft ROI’s are even moreimportant. A soft ROI is tied to the intangible activities that are impacted by the initiative. Thismight include a digitized HR form that tracks the employee from on-boarding to off-boarding.The form plays a pivotal role in promoting clear communications in a track-able andmeasureable fashion. The results include a more proactive HR organization and a happier andmore informed employee. These types of efforts can mitigate employee attrition which isexpensive and associated with poor communications and lack of integrated internal employeeservices. Another example could include the improvement of customer facing work orderprocessing. Many organizations are challenged by legacy paper based processes; trackingpapers through inter-office mail, filing cabinets, personal file folders and fax. Paper basedprocesses require a lot of employee effort and external resources (paper, ink, and toner). The
  • 49. IT SYNTHESIS 49cost of losing or misplacing this information can be substantial, resulting in customer loss andemployee aggravation. Even when the process is streamlined, the data associated with thework order or contract is siloed within paper; not re-useable nor track-able. By movingprocesses into a digitized format, organizations enable the reuse of information promotingunified communications across departments and data integrity. Managers and employees gainaccess to key information, such as status, which can result in proactive customer support andmechanisms for improving and enhancing processes. In review, the return on taking one paperbased process digital, where the process centralizes data and information into a re-useableformat (while also being track-able) becomes very valuable to the organization – with adefensible return. The return is operational and needs to be attached to either processefficiencies (more capacity) or workforce reduction. Access to a new data set is a strategicadvantage and leads to key insight into processes which could result in the identification of newproducts, services or unique ways to drive down expenses.Implications for a lack of business and technological aptitude Many IT professionals throw technology at business problems in hopes that thetechnology will solve the problem. As part of that process, IT professionals install, configure anddeploy systems per best practice. After handoff, IT moves on to the next project. The businessunits are left to fend for themselves, attempting to use the technology without any formaltraining or understanding of what or how the system is intended to work. In many cases thisleads to misconfigurations, inadequate integration and short term disruption in services.
  • 50. IT SYNTHESIS 50 A typical scenario includes the implementation of an enterprise grade accountingsystem. Accounting has a good understanding of the business requirements while IT has a firmunderstanding of the technology landscape. The two departments meet and engage withmultiple vendors. IT fields the technology questions and requirements signing off on platformsthat will integrate with current systems. Accounting is then tasked with identifying a systemthat will meet their immediate business requirements. With little collaboration, IT facilitatesthe installation and deployment of the application while accounting configures and integratesthe application into their environment –a fairly typical collaborative effort between IT and abusiness unit. In this scenario, two business departments are collaborating but not synthesizingtheir efforts. This could be due to many factors, and from the research and interviews theproblem appeared to be in IT and the business unit – collaborative problems. How can the twosynthesize their efforts without understanding the full impact of the initiative? To solve these issues there are two primary approaches. The first approach is toproactively train your technology department on the business, strategic goals and the proposedshared services of the organization. The goal is to inform technology leaders on businessfunctions and how they integrate with the rest of the organization; from product developmentto material processing and order fulfillment. This information can help IT better understand theimpact of their services on the organization, leading to the development of systematicapproaches to integrating and enabling departments. With a firm understanding of howaccounting interfaces with interconnected business processes, IT can act in a consultative role,helping guide the conversation, promoting a long term strategic fit of systems and data. Thesecond approach builds off of the first approach and adds a governance structure to the
  • 51. IT SYNTHESIS 51process. This governance structure helps business unit’s work with IT to identify applicationsthat fit into the defined structure of the organization. This cross functional team consists ofbusiness owners and line managers, including application and business analysts, which helpalign business and technology. I recommend this approach as it helps create a buffer betweenIT and the business units helping to promote the mission and vision of the organization througha well-balanced process. IBM (2009), in their most recent CIO study, attempted to understand how and whytechnology professionals fail to bring value to the business as a whole. IBM noted thattraditional IT managers, in small to medium sized organizations, juggled many activities,balancing support requirements with system maintenance. The study concluded that small tomedium sized companies spent less time in high value activities, such as strategy developmentand innovation, instead focusing on supporting and maintaining existing infrastructures. As aresult of this study, I realized that IT tended to view the business world from the inside out –from the data center to the customer. The rationale being that IT systems drove the business;from application ownership to the security of data and systems. In reality IT should be focusingon the perimeter, from the user back to the data center. The goal must be to understand theuser, their job junction and supporting business process. The new goal needs to provide anoptimal operating environment in support of the user, not the data center. By synthesizing ITand the business, through IT Optimized processes, this is possible.
  • 52. IT SYNTHESIS 52 Summary IT initiatives continue to challenge the enterprise, financially and organizationally. AsCarr (2003) points out, the proposed benefits of IT initiatives do not always merit the financialoutlay and organizational disruption. Ross et al. (2006) on the other hand, would argue thatwell thought out and planned initiatives, those initiatives that help create a foundation forexecution, are worthy of the effort and promote a defensible competitive advantage. As abridge between these perspectives, my research suggests that IT initiatives can be predictablysuccessful if what we know about leadership, organizational development and changemanagement are applied to the effort in a structured and consistent manner. Based on the current, qualitative study and the themes that emerged in this work, it isapparent that current practices and organizational processes are often stifled by a lack ofleadership and misalignment of business and technology objectives and goals; lack of changemanagement; an inability to value technology initiatives, and an overall lack of general businessknowledge in IT and the role of IT within the organization. Together, these themes raise criticalimplications for successful and strategic evolutions in organizational practices. By synthesizing the efforts of leadership and IT, organizations bridge the business-technology gap and develop a strong competency in delivering IT Optimized processes. Thissynthesis requires a commitment to developing the technology competency of the organizationand to building processes and governance structures that map IT efforts with strategic goals.Governance structures provide visibility into proposed IT initiatives and help prioritize and alignprojects horizontally and vertically across the organization. The governing body, with clear
  • 53. IT SYNTHESIS 53oversight of the business-technology function, promotes the consolidation of data andprocesses –centralizing information and promoting the reuse of information and the technologyinfrastructure. Effective change management strategies work in conjunction with thegovernance structure developing change management strategies that fit the culture of theorganization. Effective change management, with strong feedback loops help infusetechnological change within the organization, resulting in strong user adoption and highlysuccessful implementations. The return on investment is then linked to hard and softindicators; from the reduction of IT related capital expenditures to process and operationalefficiencies leading to a realignment of resources. Combined, these efforts create the ITOptimized Business Approach, a flexible framework that synthesizes business-technologyinitiatives leading to integrated processes that deliver top and bottom line results makingcompanies more agile and competitive.
  • 54. IT SYNTHESIS 54 Appendix A Sample Interview Protocol• What is your title?• What is the role of technology, specifically information systems within your company?• What is the general perception of technology within your organization?• Is your department seen as a strategic business unit?• How do you determine the IT initiatives to execute?• How do you measure the ROI of a technology initiative?• What is the role of technology, specifically information systems within your organization?• What is the general perception of technology within your organization?• Is your department seen as a strategic business unit?• How are technology initiatives chosen and prioritized within the organization?• What determines the success of a technology initiative and what is the main predictor?• How do you measure the success of a technology initiative?• Do you have an enterprise architecture (EA)?• Are you or your colleagues consulted when new technologies are chosen and integrated?• How are IT initiatives rolled out to the workforce? Staged or phased approach?• Does workforce management (HR) play a key role in developing user adoption strategies?
  • 55. IT SYNTHESIS 55• Do you use any lean six sigma methodologies within the IT services department? If so, what and how?• Do you have a defensible strategy for developing a useful ROI of a technology initiative?• How does technology promote the mission of this organization?
  • 56. IT SYNTHESIS 56 Appendix B Tech Survey1. How would you characterize the IT function within the corporate strategy ofyour company?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountClosely aligned 30.8% 4Cooperative partners 61.5% 8Limited Involvement 0.0% 0Unrelated 7.7% 1Other (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 02. Is the IT function consulted before new systems are identified, purchasedand implemented?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountAlways 38.5% 5Most of the time 46.2% 6Sometimes 7.7% 1Rarely, if ever 7.7% 1Other (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 03. Do you have an Enterprise Architecture (EA)?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountYes 46.2% 6No 23.1% 3Not sure 30.8% 4Other (please specify) 2 answered question 13 skipped question 04. How would you characterize the IT function?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountProactive 7.7% 1Reactive 7.7% 1Mix 84.6% 11
  • 57. IT SYNTHESIS 57Other (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 05. What is your biggest pain point with regard to your enterprise strategy?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountCompliance 25.0% 3Enterprise Content Management 16.7% 2Data Integration 8.3% 1Reporting 16.7% 2Process Improvements 41.7% 5Moving from paper to digital/eForms 16.7% 2Determining project ROI 8.3% 1Developing an Enterprise architecture 25.0% 3Standardizing systems and information 25.0% 3Other (please specify) 2 answered question 12 skipped question 16. Is Business Process Automation of interest to your company?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountDefinitely 46.2% 6Perhaps 30.8% 4Ambivalent 15.4% 2Not at this time 7.7% 1Other (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 07. What percentage of the time do you manage processes in the following forms?PercentageAnswer 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Response CountOptionsPaper 7 2 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 13BasedFile Based 1 4 4 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 13(Word,Excel,Email)Electronic 8 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11Forms
  • 58. IT SYNTHESIS 58(InfoPath,Adobe)Software 4 3 2 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 13ApplicationCustom 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5Solutions Question TotalsOther (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 08. Do you currently have the tools available to implement general formsbased business process improvement strategies?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountYes 69.2% 9No 15.4% 2Maybe 15.4% 2Other (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 09. How do you measure the proposed ROI of a technology initiative?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountPredefined and balanced process owned by IT 41.7% 5and FinanceFinance handles that, ask them 16.7% 2Not sure 41.7% 5Not possible 0.0% 0There is an equation for that 0.0% 0Other (please specify) 2 answered question 12 skipped question 110. Is it common for IT to work in conjunction with HR/WorkforceManagement to develop user adoption strategies when deploying a newtechnology?Answer Options Response Response Percent CountAlways 7.7% 1
  • 59. IT SYNTHESIS 59Sometimes 69.2% 9Not usually 23.1% 3Not sure 0.0% 0Other (please specify) 0 answered question 13 skipped question 0
  • 60. IT SYNTHESIS 60 ReferencesAncona, D. (2008). Leadership in an age of uncertainty. Mason, Ohio: South-Western.Carr, N. (2003). IT doesnt matter. Boston: Harvard Business review.Christensen, C. M. (2003). The innovators dilemma: The revolutionary book that will change the way you do business. Boston: President and Fellows of Harvard College.George, M., Rowlands, D., & Kastle, B. (2004). What is Lean Six Sigma. New York: McGraw-Hill.Hubbard, D. W. (2007). How to measure anything: Finding the value of "Intangibles" in business. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.IBM. (2009). The new voice of the CIO: Insights from the global Chief information Officer study. Somers, NY: IBM Institute for Business Value.Keen, P. G. (1997). The process edge: Creating value where it counts. Boston: President and Fellows of Harvard College.Kotter, J. P. (1990). What leaders really do. Boston: Harvard Business Review.Kotter, J. P. (2007). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Boston: Harvard Business Review.Krigsman, M. (2009, August 12). Three big reasons CRM initiatives fail. Retrieved January 5, 2010, from Tech Republic: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-manager/?p=1853Ross, J., Weill, P., & Robertson, D. C. (2006). Enterprise Architecture as strategy: Creating a foundation for business execution. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Ulrich, D. (2008). The changing nature of human resources: A model for multiple roles. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.Ulrich, D., Brockbank, W., Johnson, d., Sandholtz, K., & Younger, J. (2008). HR Competencies: Mastery at the intersection of people and business. Alexandria: Society for Human Resource Management.Ulrich, D., Zenger, J., & Smallwood, N. (1999). Results-Based Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  • 61. IT SYNTHESIS 61Wallace, L., & Trinka, J. (2007). A legacy of 21st Century leadership: A guide for creating a climate of leadership throughout your organization. Lincoln: iUniverse.Weill, P., & Ross, J. W. (2009). IT Savvy: What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain. Boston: Harvard Business Press.