Delivering Business Value With IT At Hefty Hardware Teaching
How to collaborate effectively with the business at all levels remains the key IT challenge. Key Issues There is increasing pressure on business to be more flexible and to deliver products and services to customers quickly. IT practices often inhibit these business goals. IT Is expected to deliver both cheap, reliable operations AND create new business value. These goals can get confused by both business and IT leaders and leadership can mix these up when evaluating IT or when doing IT planning and budgeting. IT is a key player In delivering most business strategies these days.
Too often, IT leaders see “getting to know the business” as secondary to almost every other IT issue, such as planning and architecture. Spending time in the business is seen as a “boondoggle. ” “Technocrats” Is confusing and frustrating for business. This can work against IT plans and strategies because business leaders don’t understand how these plans/strategies relate to their own needs, issues, and strategies. Business expects IT communication to be In business language. Teaching Approach As a start, pre-board the organization chart depicted in Appendix A.
This helps to keep the various reporting and relationship roles straight. Setting the Scene This case takes a “horizontal” slice through a number of coexistent issues. As a result, he challenge is “knowing where to start” ? Just as It Is In real organizations ? and this requires detective work. The first task is therefore to highlight the issues. To do this, simply ask the class to identify all the issues presented within the case. They should Identify the following at a minimum: The UP of Retail Marketing. Key driver behind the new “Savvy Store” program, recognizes the crucial role that IT will have to play but has no confidence that her IT counterparts within the organization will be able to “get toys company’ to get it done! Although relationships between the business and IT seem o work at the mid-management level (I. E. , Glen Vogel, the COO, really likes his IT account manager, Jenny Henderson, who “sits in on all our strategy meetings and seems to really understand our business”), at the project level the “IT people don’t even know some of our basic business functions, like how our warehouses operate”.
With respect to the contribution of IT to the business, Glen Vogel clearly distinguishes between the “good, cheap, reliable computer operations” where IT is delivering value for the money, and to the creation of new business products and services where “we don’t feel IT is contributing”. The UP of Retail Marketing doesn’t see how IT is contributing to the execution of the business strategy. But the problem is as much on the business side as the IT side.
The example of the COM project demonstrates how the business is not “on the same page with itself. ” The business assigned their most Junior people, failed to agree on a “version of truth,” insisted on workarounds, enhancements, and exceptions. Jenny suggested that “it would be a lot easier for us in IT if the business would get its act together about what it wants from IT. ” Basically, it is difficult for the IT organization to contribute to the execution of the business treated when the business strategy is an ever-moving target.
The severity of the disconnect between IT and the business becomes apparent when the COO’s invitation to the senior IT executives to accompany him on a trip to “see what it is really like in the field” is viewed by the IT executives as an unnecessary “boondoggle” that would keep them away from their more important work – clearly a case of misaligned priorities! Farad’s immediate solution to send Jenny and Joyce (the new intern) on the field trip with the COO, instead of the five senior IT executives, reveals a lack of political awareness on the part of the CIO.
There is a huge communications gap between IT and the business as exemplified by the R&D guys’ presentation on how Hefty could benefit from the new mobile capabilities which was seen as technical “mambo-jumbo’ by the business. This gap is so significant that, according to Jenny Henderson, the IT guys didn’t even understand “why the business couldn’t see how these bits and bytes they’re talking about translate into something that it can use to make money. CICS at Hefty turn over every two years as a result of various causes such as “a major application crash, plummeting user satisfaction, implants about IT costs or an expensive new system failure. ” Analysis Once the issues are on the board, you can invite the class to summarize the situation at Hefty based on the evidence in front of them. There are a number of issues in the case but the students should be able to focus them down to two key challenges which are highlighted in the case.
First, Jenny Henderson suggests that “a practical goal would be to find ways for business and IT to work collaboratively at all levels. ” Then she goes on to elaborate that the business and IT “each hold pieces of the true picture of the business we need to figure out a better way to put them together than simply trying to force them to fit. ” Second, the question in Glen Vogue’s mind was how could the business and IT work together to deliver the Savvy Store vision “when IT was essentially operating in its own technical world, which bore very collaboration while the second is one of communication.
This case illustrates what happens with ineffective communication and ineffective collaboration. There are a lot of different possible solutions to address both the short term needs ND the long term needs at Hefty but what is most important is that students make sure that their solutions address both the communications challenges and the collaborations challenge. Addressing only one of these would not be effective. For instance, an issue that requires immediate attention by Farad is to respond to Glen Vogue’s invitation to Join him on a field visit.
Rather than simply agreeing (in spite of the other pressing issues he and his team are facing), students might suggest that Farad meet with Glen to discuss not only the timing of the field trip but its overall AOL in order to outline some deliverables for the field trip. Students should recognize the importance of effective communication here; that is, Farad must convey to Glen that he understands the reason for the field trip and communicates its value to him and his staff personally.
With respect to collaboration, perhaps the field trip could be tied directly to the Savvy Store program with the deliverable being a detailed implementation plan to best accommodate the intricacies of the retail outlets. This would be a good overall recommendation as it would constitute effective communication as well as effective collaboration. Discussion Questions 1 . How effective is the partnership between IT and the business at Hefty Hardware? Identify the shortcomings of both IT and the business.