A couple of weeks ago we sat down with Bill Lochten, National Vice President at Software AG Government Solutions to talk about the importance of building strong ties between IT and business to ensure mission success. In Lochten’s opinion if these two groups within an agency are not working hand-in-hand with one another, there’s likely to be a great deal of frustration, resulting in lost opportunities to work more efficiently both in terms of output and budget. One of the areas where this is most apparent is when agencies are taking on transformation projects because the consequences of failure are so very high. To be blunt, under today’s stressed budgets, a failure of a ‘project’, can no longer just be absorbed, it translates into cuts in other areas that undoubtedly impact mission success or readiness.
Before we get into how business and IT can work better together, it’s useful to have an understanding of what IT transformation is…and is not. If you mention IT transformation in the corridors of a government agency you’ll see the blood drain from most people’s faces as they envision a massive undertaking that is led by IT and disrupts operations for months on end. If you sat down and talked to both the IT and business teams, you’d expect to find differing perceived challenges. Business teams often fear the capital outlay as well as the impact on operations and mission delivery while the IT team, might be excited by the prospect of implementing the latest and greatest while fearing the additional scrutiny from business and the pushback from end users for disrupting the ways they are used to performing mission critical actions.
But that’s not what IT transformation is really all about.
Lochten pointed out in a recent conversation with ModernGov that “IT transformation isn’t a monolithic, multiyear project, but a consistent effort taking the form of a series of relatively small strategic efforts that produce true, measurable ROI in the first year.” In viewing transformation as a process, rather than an event, the fear factor is removed and the two key players – business and IT – can focus on goals and outcomes, rather than the costs of a project.
So what is IT transformation really about?
For Lochten, IT transformation is about “identifying, consolidating, and sometimes eliminating non-strategic projects and IT assets in an agency’s portfolio. Most of all, it means reevaluating and changing how your organization has performed even the minutest tasks across your organization and effectively measuring the value and impact of those changes.” And when a mutual goal has been established, each side can simply do what they do best. Lochten went on to say that “IT cannot determine for Business which technology capabilities are most important to business and its customers nor can business make accurate fact-based decisions and deliver real value to its stakeholders without ITs methodologies, governance, and ability to deliver.”
Lochten finished up our conversation by noting that “IT transformation is about challenging our government IT leaders to find creative and innovative ways to accelerate IT value.”
Interested in learning more about IT transformation from government CIOs? Why not attend the ModernGov Summit on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 to hear best practices from Department of Commerce CIO, Stephen Cooper, Steven Hernandez, CISO of the Office of Inspector General – Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other IT visionaries.