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Friday
Nov072008

The emperor's new clothes...

There are a number of clients that I have worked with several times over the years.  Some of these organizations have gone through major business transformations that were led by traditional tier 1 consultancies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.  It is interesting to contrast the before and after states of a couple of these organizations.

Example 1

Before - two legacy IT estates with no integration between them.  Development tools and infrastructure were "burning" platforms.

What was intended - modernization of one legacy platform, migration of other to modernized platform, decommissioning of legacy.

After - two legacy IT estates with integration between them.  Development tools and infrastructure were "burning" platforms.

Timescale - 3 years

Hidden costs - loss of business and IT talent.  Business still constrained by the legacy.

Benefit - a single business operation.

Example 2

Before - legacy IT estate with spaghetti point to point integration between them.  Development tools and infrastructure were "burning" platforms.

What was intended - delivery of ERP, migration of legacy to ERP, decommissioning of legacy.

After - ERP package grafted on top of legacy IT estate with spaghetti point to point integration.   Development tools and infrastructure were "burning" platforms.

Timescale - 3 years

Hidden costs - loss of business and IT talent.  Business still constrained by the legacy.

Benefit - more efficient head office operations.

In public, they are trumpeted by the consultancies and their clients as great successes because they achieved the major business goal.  Privately, these transformations are considered failures since they increased IT costs and reduced future business flexibility.

In both these cases, the business vision and the IT vision were sound.  The plans to deliver them were unrealistic and unreasonable from both a delivery and solution perspective.  There were many dissenting voices inside the organizations.   These people typically moved on or were sidelined.

So what is the solution:

Make sure that executive level management understand change is delivered at the working level not in the board room.

Make sure you can work with the consultancy.   The most important relationships are those between the consultants who deliver and the staff and management who deliver.  These relationships must be built on trust and be mutually supportive.

Take responsibility for delivery, don't abdicate it to a consultancy - if their plans and solutions don't seem to make sense then they may not make sense.  Grill them, tear them apart if necessary, get them to refine their plans and solutions until they hold water.  This is being constructive, it is being a team player, it is being on message.  If the consultants don't like then that is their problem, they are grown ups, they will walk away to another assignment leaving you or your successor to pick up the pieces.

Take responsibility for change, don't abdicate it to a consultancy - make sure they deliver the plans and solutions as promised.  If there is a need for change then make sure you really understand any compromises.  Consultancies manage to margin, make sure you have a contingency fund to cover changes.  If you don't you will be forced to make compromises that incrementally destroy the integrity of the solution in order to meet the major business goal.

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  • Response
    Great Post! I am planning to write sometihng like this on my blog! I want emphatize this to Latin American Market! Keep it up! PS: Already Bookmarked!
  • Response
    Response: commerce news
    Great Post! I am planning to write sometihng like this on my blog! I want emphatize this to Latin American Market! Keep it up! PS: Already Bookmarked!

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