Tech Dots And Process Connectors

I recently completed an interview with the VP of patient management for a large healthcare organization. When introducing herself, she said that her responsiblity is “connecting the dots”. I asked her what kind of dots, and she said “We have a software application for everything we do -- I must get them talking to each other and this is a challenge.” I asked her what the role of IT. Her answer was “they do a good job of maintaining the applications, but not so much on cross-functional processes”.

Is this an unusual situation? Obviously not. A recent Forrester survey of 141 organizations shows that in 78% of organizations business executives -- not IT -- drive process improvement initiatives. I assume that most of these initiatives are about “connecting the dots”.

I think that IT decision-makers can do a lot more to improve business processes, in particular cross-functional processes. Acting as agents of process improvement, they need to re-focus their teams from supporting tech platforms to optimizing cross-functional processes. As one  of these change-agents pointed out in a recent interview  “ No single functional department owns end-to-end order-to-cash. IT can help a company see something that is hard to see”.  (see this report)

Working with several IT decision-makers, I developed a few recommendations for change-agents who aim to increase the business orientation and efficiency of their organizations:

  • Focus on business enablement through service orientation
  • Leverage consolidation and shared services programs to address business optimizations
  • Orchestrate IT's demand and supply functions for providing services
  • Coordinate service delivery across business organizations
  • Help IT governance and business requirements to converge

 

What do you think? Is my analysis correct? Do these recommendations help you in “connecting the dots”? I look forward to your feedback.

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Comments

In my experience, when IT is

In my experience, when IT is relegated to a non-strategic role (typically a necessary evil) the degree of system integration across the business is far short of what it could be. System modules are either not implemented or if implemented are poorly used. The use and efficiency of the system is department based and not company based.

Where a strategic role for IT is adopted at the senior level of the company there is much greater emphasis and accountability (IT and operating departments) toward the business system supporting and meeting corporate business objectives. In a strategic role IT is often the leader of cross-functional teams that focus on the continuous improvement of use of the system and refinement of business processes directed at improving company based productivity and efficiency objectives.

In a strategic role IT must be equipped with business professionals who are equipped to translate business requirements and objectives into system based initiatives. In this capacity they are the change agents and are responsible for connecting the dots using the cross-functional teams to fill in the blanks whether the open issues are IT or department based.

Your recommendations are good and will be most effective where senior management (CEO, owner) sets the tone for collaboration and accountability.