Even during times of relative economic stability, enterprises constantly undergo change to stay competitive and to respond to market threats and opportunities. In an uncertain economic environment, there is an even greater probability of significant and rapid business change.
Rapid change brings with it the uncertainty, unpredictability and confusion that can result from a lack of cohesive knowledge about people, process, technology or regulations. This can lead to a breakdown of key business processes, which in turn will impact performance and ultimately increase costs. During such times, technology, and in particular the governance structure over it, plays a critical role as a change enabler across the business. In fact, IT governance processes are never tested more than amid such change.
The accelerated decision-making required today as a result of the speed of many organizational changes often results in enterprises finding themselves reshaped overnight and less than prepared to address the many new changes properly. For CIOs of these newly expanded or changed organizations, the role of IT governance becomes increasingly important to help provide clarity of scope, roles and, most importantly, what immediate measures need to be taken to maximize “business as usual” activity and to take advantage of immediate opportunities.
Challenges and Opportunities
Following a period of rapid, and often unanticipated, change within a business, there are three phases:
- Gain control – Understand the change that has occurred; ensure any potentially adverse impact on service is minimized; verify the business continues to be compliant with laws and regulations.
- Drive efficiency – Streamline the new organization: Rationalize headcount, optimize the project portfolio and standardize operations.
- Build a platform for growth – Reset the IT strategy to reposition the business to respond to changing business objectives and opportunities.
Effective governance is about empowering the business and the IT department that supports it to make the right decisions at the right time. Good decision-making is possible only with timely, complete and reliable information. Ensuring that such information is available rapidly is critical to obtaining control and moving forward with confidence. Yet many CIOs do not have access to such information even when it is “business as usual,” and during times of rapid change, the quantity, clarity and quality of information may be significantly reduced. Even the best IT organization may find it difficult to access the information necessary to make the right decisions to support the business, leaving it reacting to events rather than proactively managing its way through change.
Our Point of View
Reacting quickly, and with confidence, to change can determine success or failure. Quality, consistency, accuracy and availability of information enhance an organization’s ability to limit exposures and act on opportunities. Failure of the CIO to take control not only impacts the performance of IT, but can have catastrophic implications on the wider business. As organizations continue to look for a competitive edge, areas such as strategic planning, research and innovation all benefit from the availability of quality information, particularly relating to the following key areas:
- Services – What services/systems do I now have responsibility for? What business processes do they support?
- Issues – What are the significant issues I have inherited? Does anything need to be fixed urgently? Are these issues pervasive in nature or confined to an individual business unit or service? Are issues addressed by tactical solutions or strategic programs of work?
- People – How many people do I now have? Who are the key individuals that the business depends upon? Are roles, responsibilities and reporting lines clearly defined and understood?
- Architecture and standards – What degree of standardization exists across the new organization in terms of infrastructure, enterprise architecture, processes and functional activity?
- Legislation – What regulatory requirements am I now governed by? Is the organization in compliance with these regulations?
- Shared services – What service centers do we operate? Which systems, services or business units do they support? Is there scope for more efficiency to be gained from shared services?
- Portfolio management – What IT-enabled projects are currently underway? In view of changing business priorities and challenges, should any of these projects now be rationalized, rescoped or cancelled?
How We Help Companies Succeed
Our approach to IT governance is designed specifically to help clients gain and retain the initiative in periods of change or uncertainty. Our professionals have the knowledge and experience to help define the requirements of the remodeled IT organization. We also deliver a proven methodology to provide IT leadership with the information needed to lead their functions efficiently and effectively through any merger, demerger or acquisition, and beyond.
Protiviti helped the head of a global international bank gain an understanding of his newly expanded universe when his department grew overnight from 3,000 personnel based inthe United Kingdom to 12,000 personnel worldwide. The department head not only had responsibility for managing risks that would impact availability of business services, but also became accountable for all IT regulatory and compliance issues worldwide.
Our global team rapidly collated information regarding the newly expanded IT organization and implemented processes to enable the maintenance of the data on an ongoing basis. We produced for the executive team a series of webenabled dashboards containing the information necessary to understand the services supported by the enlarged IT organization. This facilitated an understanding of process, risk and control issues across the global enterprise, along with the quantified impact of these issues on the business.