Archive for February, 2012

Global IT Management Teams

The CIO plays a key role in the organizational success of IT globalization by ensuring that the proper level of IT leadership is in place across the corporation. Regional or line of business IT executives must contribute to the global initiatives as a team. Ideally, the regional IT executives will report to the regional presidents. At a minimum, the regional IT executive must have access to and be in a position to influence the regional president and his or her direct reports. The global IT council, composed of the senior IT leadership from corporate headquarters and the regions, will then be in a position to play a key role in establishing programs, priorities, standards and support capabilities across the enterprise. Objectives of this global IT council will typically include:

  • Build and promote the global IT vision.
  • Determine the major components of the global applications portfolio.
  • Set technical and process standards for systems implementation.
  • Define responsibilities for implementation and support at the global, regional and local levels.
  • Drive maximum application commonality, balancing unique local requirements with the global business process models.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the transfer of business process models, templates and best practices in system implementation, and other organizational learning.
  • Seek economies of scale in IT, leveraging partnerships with key suppliers globally and pursuing shared services where it makes sense.

Typically, the corporate IT organization will own primary responsibility for IT vendor management, “product management” of the global solutions, applications integration and portfolio management, and IT infrastructure. Technical and user support will typically be marshaled to meet local coverage and service-level needs. Mobile implementation teams are often utilized at both the corporate and regional levels. The global IT council will seek the proper balance in local and regional user support services.

The global IT council also contributes to the “internationalization” of solutions and services by:

  • Recruiting the best business and IT professionals for the global process teams.
  • Ensuring regional representation on global technology teams charged with development of detailed standards (e.g., communications networks, email and collaboration tools, e-commerce technologies).
  • Assessing candidates for advancement in corporate or other regional IT leadership positions.

The members of the global IT council can also play a pivotal role in bringing regional business insight to the IT leadership team, and in influencing regional general management.

Early in any globalization effort, the IT council should resolve the primary responsibilities among corporate, major business units, regions, and local sites. The responsibility “boundaries” will evolve over time, but early classification can prove very productive in speeding discussions. The results of one such classification exercise at a global corporation are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Global IT Architecture Responsibility


Global IT Architecture Responsibility

The use of multiple specialized management teams on IT globalization initiatives can be a very effective way to strengthen effectiveness of global standards, and, more importantly, to create a sense of worldwide ownership of the results. To the extent possible, the teams should utilize company talent from around the world, including technical business leaders who own respect within the various international regions. Together these individuals become a powerful conduit for ideas and content from the region, and the promotion of standards to the local organizations. Examples of possible strategic global teams include:

  • Enterprise Applications Council – Provides leadership in business process model implementation, global/regional data models, applications integration standards, version management, and prioritization of requests for vendor enhancements.
  • Technical Infrastructure Council – Focuses on standards for networks, servers, operating systems, and solutions and tools for systems operation management, data management, information access, email, and collaboration tools.
  • Electronic Commerce Council – Typically chaired by corporate marketing, this council provides leadership in corporate “image” standards, Web-site linkage and content coordination, browsers and other tools, Web-page design, and technology services providers.
  • Shared Services Councils – Typically chaired by corporate finance, these teams pursue opportunities to improve operations economies through the establishment of shared services for processes that may be consistent across multiple locations. The shared services centers are typically by geographic region, and include functions such as finance, HR, legal, IT operations, and sometimes engineering.

For more information contact Shaun http://www.sacherpartners.eu


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Given the many potential advantages of increased coordination across the global enterprise, it is essential that the IT function be organized to enable and support global information management, technology infrastructure, and business applications. Deciding how to organize and manage IT in a way that overcomes any natural resistance toward coordination (e.g., local entrepreneurial spirit, the “not invented here” syndrome) can be challenging. For many multinational corporations, attempts to globalize IT have been disappointing. The key to success seems to be in finding the right “hooks” of intrinsic value for the local business entities, as well as the corporation at large – in other words, answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”

The first step in developing the right “hooks” is not in reshuffling the boxes on IT organization charts, but rather organizing IT globalization projects so that the results are clearly understood and committed to. Organizing for results includes two major elements of communication. First, the globalization initiative must progress from a set of clearly defined business outcomes, owned by senior executives, that serve as the strategic rationale for the investment. Second, the project must be owned and staffed jointly among regional IT organizations, the appropriate business process owners, and line executives. A detailed project plan – with all major events, milestones, responsibilities, dependencies, and timelines indicated – is also crucial to success. Characteristics of an effective project plan include:

  • Clearly articulated business outcomes, with metrics and accountabilities.
  • Joint responsibility for business change with business process owners and line executives.
  • Detailed project implementation tasks – with major decision “tollgates” identified.
  • Pilots for operational testing and evaluation of measured business results.
  • Delegation of decision making, with clarity of scope and the process for escalation of issues (e.g., to global process executive sponsors).
  • Continuous communication and collaboration with international counterparts.
  • Executive management actively engaged in defining the outcomes and measuring results.

As a team effort, and a business priority, the IT globalization initiative then has the visibility, the access to expert business resources, and most importantly the legitimacy to proceed to success.

Business Ownership of Global Projects

Whether it is the deployment of a common infrastructure, the implementation of a set of technical standards, or the installation of common business applications, global projects should begin with a rigorous assessment of the desired business outcomes. What new capabilities and measures of performance are needed? How will this project enable those objectives? What is the value of these outcomes to the local business units? How do the outcomes advance key strategic objectives of the corporation?

The business outcomes must be owned and articulated by members of senior management of the corporation. In the most successful cases, there are one or more functional champions for the globalization of processes who create the pull for standardizing the technology. Examples include global vice presidents of engineering, manufacturing, finance or distribution. In many cases these global process owners and IT management have partnered to define the desired technological end-state, based upon the desired business outcomes. In very large organizations, it is often useful to take the vision one step further during the conceptual stage and construct a high-level business process model. The business process model then becomes a guide in the subsequent configuration of the application software to be used. The key result of the process-modeling exercise is to clearly define the level of process standardization required, and at what level the model is open to local practices or local statutory requirements.

All large project undertakings, and especially global initiatives, require the ownership by business executives at both the process (e.g., manufacturing, finance, distribution) and line of business (international region or product line) levels. This can most effectively be achieved through an outcomes-based project governance structure, as depicted in Figure 6.

Figure 1: Outcomes-Based Project Governance

This organizational structure explicitly recognizes that process-oriented corporate structures are inherently matrices. Process owners are responsible for the design and performance of processes wherever they are executed. Business owners, like divisional and location heads, are responsible for the work of organizational units. They have P&L responsibility, hence the most direct vested interest in realizing business outcomes. They and their people use the global systems, ongoing education and training is in their budgets, and they have the ability to motivate people to change.

This project management structure continuously incorporates, coordinates and aligns both of these constituencies. Process owners reshape processes to enable business outcomes. Business owners reshape organizations to realize the outcomes and their benefits. Coordinating mechanisms are embedded in, not tacked onto, the project structure. Rapid issue resolution draws on both constituencies. And change management is the explicit and ongoing responsibility of both.

In this model, process ownership is clearly established and executed through a team of process experts. These team members are typically selected from the most successful line managers in operations, and are assigned the temporary duty of full-time leadership of the global initiative’s business process improvements. These process experts help articulate the business process model to drive the project, interpret and resolve any local issues, and help to promote the benefits of the project to their functional counterparts across the enterprise. The process teams are in turn supported by process executive sponsors.

Utilizing process experts from across the enterprise has obvious benefits in speeding acceptance and ownership of the business process models. It also gives added assurance that important local capabilities and requirements are not overlooked. The teams must also communicate with stakeholders at the process and business unit level at regular intervals during technology development. The communications themes include promotion of the vision, solicitation of input, and building awareness and knowledge. Updates from the global process team members to their local, regional or line of business management is another valuable mechanism to aid communication with line management across the corporation.

Senior managers, including process executives, business unit general management and the corporate CEO, play a vital role in the success of global projects, especially as these projects begin to move from the conceptual to the implementation stage. Having provided leadership and guidance in shaping the key business strategies and outcomes, these leaders must now function as articulate advocates for the programs’ rationale. In this way they can help overcome local resistance. They will also support the process teams in resolving issues around the degree of process standardization required to achieve the business outcomes.

Senior management must send the consistent and unmistakable message that the project is an important investment for the overall good of the enterprise. On very large enterprise projects, project success has been made a significant component of the incentive bonus of line executives.

Regards Shaun

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