I have started this post a number of times and kept thinking that this is too obvious of a topic and that I wouldn’t have enough to say but here it goes….
Business operations evolve over time. New technologies emerge, people become more technically savvy, demands increase, and the world has become more of an online self service society. ALL businesses/organizations need to keep up with the times.
IT (Information Technology) shouldn’t drive change… I guess that statement is a little confusing because as I just stated businesses need to evolve to keep up with the changing technologies and society movements. Maybe a better way to put it is when IT changes technology the reason behind it must be to achieve business goals and objectives.
What is business transformation?
A business is defined by what it does, and not by how it does it. Transformation is changing how business is done. This raises an interesting point… what is the difference between operational changes and transformation?
There are a lot of updates and changes that must be made to continue doing what you are currently doing, these type of changes are what I have been referring to as operational changes. For example changes can be:
- a result of efficiencies determined from monitoring applications and processes and measuring against the KPIs (Key Progress Indicators),
- in response to policies, rules or regulations changes,
- due to security assessments,
- technology updates.
Transformation on the other hand is driven by business goals and/or objectives changing and can be triggered by a number of things foe example:
- Efficiency… the desire to reduce costs or increase productivity,
- Expectations… new leaders, or clients/members demands,
- Technologies… upgrades due to decommissioning or advancements and
- Amalgamation… combining organizations or departments.
Looking at each trigger independently:
Day to day operations monitor and improve areas in isolation, their goal is to do what they are currently doing as efficiently and effectively as possible. As staff come and go changes are made and adopted based on assumptions and interpretations. Applications, systems and processes may not be as efficient when you evaluate the full organization.
An EA has the ability to look at the big picture and identify duplication, overlaps and gaps across the organization. Looking at the big picture can also identify risks and vulnerabilities that were invisible to any specific area in isolation.
Expectations come from both staff and clients, and have a tendency to change over the years as new leaders come and go, and as new information comes forward.
An EA has the ability to gather and document all expectations, weight them against each other and then evaluate them against the full organization.
As new products emerge IT determines which products do what the business is currently doing most effectively and efficiently. The problem is what the business is currently doing isn’t necessarily the most effective solution for the business. If you step back and really understand the business requirements and objectives you will find that some of what the business is currently doing is because of restrictions, misconceptions and assumptions over the years.
An EA never looks at just one element and never assumes the current way of doing things meets the business goals and objectives. If technology is to be retired, or new purchases to be made an EA must start with the business requirements. They must evaluate the business goals and objectives to determine the most effective way to achieve the business requirements, they must look for risks and vulnerabilities and they must evaluate based on business resources and priorities.
Acquiring a new company, or merging departments, result in duplicate processes, systems and applications. Running parallel is inefficient and choosing one over the other could impact expectations.
An EA has the ability to step back and look at the big picture. Starting with the business goals and objectives the EA can assess the current environment and put a design in place. Not only does a merge impact the business processes, systems and applications but it also impacts the corporate processes, systems and applications.
Regardless of the trigger the transformation must start with understanding the business goals and objectives. There must be a design documenting what is important and what the end goal looks like. Understanding what you are starting with allows you to create a plan or roadmap ensuring the end goals and expectations are met.
Simply put an EA is used to design change similar to the building architect who is used to design a new house, an addition, or a renovation. The first step to change must be gathering business requirements, creating a design and detailing out the plan. It has to be done from an EA position even an IT change