Why Understanding the IT and Business Operating Model Is Critical for Change

By Lisa Woodall

How often do you hear about operational readiness and business readiness in the programmes that are running in your business? Are these aspects at the heart of the most successful change programs? I wonder?

Yes, the project can redevelop as many processes as it likes.  It can look at today’s process steps and look to re-engineer to drive satisfaction and take out costs.

Yes, the project can consider all the different data, which the business could absorb to enable it to be more intelligent, as well as start to enable a system to capture, enrich, and integrate it with other aspects of the business.

Yes, the project can spend time, assessing and selecting the best in breed tech that will enable you to configure to your unique needs.

But if the project is unsure about the operating model that the solution will be delivered through and supported by, and if it is unsure about the movers and shakers in the business teams that will need to change to adopt the new solution – it could be spending a lot of money and waste a lot of time. It probably won’t come close to the benefits of the business case or in some cases get to that “go live” date that’s flashing on the programme plan.

Any business of any scale, which has outsourced and partnered with delivery teams, who have a web of systems to integrate within and who have a diverse mix of long serving and new starters need to have an operating model considered into the delivery of change.  This goes further than the organisational structure and layers. It needs to consider the identity and ways of working across the diverse teams to get results. And with that comes engaging across all manner of teams to get results.

Businesses more than ever need to consider multi discipline team of architects, partner/supplier resource, change agents and the trusty PM and BA community to pull the change off.  All these experts have to be working through every stage of the project, as well as be prepared to listen hard to points of view and reflect on the solution to get the best results.

The project needs to be considering business change, change adoption, technology, and data delivery workstreams. Many projects refer to the work streams as customer readiness, data readiness and tech readiness.  All pulling together based on how the programme director orchestrated and highlights the interdependencies and encourages the team to work together.

Getting that business operating model that’s ready, willing and able to embrace the outputs and deliverables of the programme and turn them into the business outcomes is as challenging as getting the technology right.  Time has to be spent really understanding what will be changing in the business context, the current “manual” and system ways of working will need to change.  Many habits and ways of working will be difficult to unpick and change. That’s because people have been “wired” to do things in the existing way.

In the good old days it was just a case of floor walkers and training material to deploy a system to a team – now the teams are often dispersed “on-site and offshore.” They often are made up of in-house and supplier teams coming together to get things done. The permanent and temp ratios of staff also provide the risk that not everyone in the current model is being adequately considered. Everybody that needs to change.

From tech go lives, to business roll out and adoption phases the operating model has to be considered. With the transition from Programme to a service managed across the tech and business landscape it needs to be managed accordingly and not just thrown over the fence. It takes resilience, it takes determination and it takes an adaptive mindset as most programmes of any scale will progress over a number of years and see many people cycle in and out of the delivery programme.

There are those that talk about test and learn, MVPs and pilots pre scaling, with experimenting and trialling the path to scaling – that’s great and should and must be encouraged – too often the Uber programme is scoped on a whole set of big picture hypothesis and costed accordingly. But a test and trial within a top down theme but with bottom up input may drive better results with the service live sooner than expected and then incrementally scaling with functional releases as the adoption happens and feedback flows into the service team.

The landscape is far more complex than ever, there are infinite possibilities with mushrooming tech solutions, exploding data drivers and a whole set of business motivations that now need to be factored into delivering a change agenda.

The advice has to be to create that multi disciples team from across the entire operating model and align and work together on trialling the change, scaling the change with adoption feedback and changing the world drastically in incremental steps.

All of this is so easy to put down on paper but getting it right and delivering on the potential is a challenge not to be sniffed at .. there will be many sleepless nights but it will be worth it!

Are you thinking broad enough about the impact your project will have on the business model and are you considering the make up of your product or project team.  More and more we need to be progressing  with an experimental research based mindset ahead of getting too fixated on what the target might be!