Rapid changes in IT are being driven by customer focus, the consumerization of applications, technology budgets moving to lines of business and the rise of citizen developers -- a new kind of problem-solving super hero.
This new business landscape is specifically impacting how process excellence professionals implement and execute on transformation efforts, and as a result, work with developer resources and the IT department.
While designing and mapping process using Kaizen, Lean Six Sigma and other business transformation tools is critical for driving continual process and business improvement, so is the manner is which it's executed.
So how involved are these process excellence leaders and line of business users in the decision-making process around the software needed to support their business transformation initiatives?
To understand the varying range, here are two different scenarios presented at the PEX Exchange in North Carolina last year.
One executive in the high-tech industry said he's not involved in software decisions at all. Instead, his company has an IT group that decides on all the software the company is allowed to use. His job then is to identify and help the teams he works with to determine what needs to be done. But it's the IT department who ultimately decide which software tool can be used.
One executive in the financial services industry acting as a conduit between process excellence and IT is very engaged in data governance and system integration questions. He works to determine if new software for transformation efforts can play well with legacy systems and abide by governance requirements.
Regardless of industry, this contrast exists at all kinds of companies dealing with transformation challenges at different speeds and with different approaches.
Another striking example is between a medical device company wherein the IT department is very much still the traditional gatekeeper to technology decisions. Meanwhile, a large chemical enterprise formally combined their process excellence and IT departments to create a full cycle of diagnosis, prescription and delivery for transformation.
Overall, many conversations revealed a burgeoning transformation taking place within organizations. More specifically, a new breed of agile and quickly adaptive business technology professionals straddling department lines.
An executive at a national insurance company told me her department effectively moved from reporting to the CIO to the CFO, which has been a great move for her team.
Others, including a few from Fortune 500 companies, also shared a similar hybrid experience of working with their IT department to empower more line of business owners to generate and manage their processes optimally.
"IT is realigning with the process owners," said TIAA Office of Business Effectiveness Managing Director Dave Pflug. "Process-oriented funding is taking priority, especially for Tech-Ops."
The forging of roles is a sign of better things to come. For starters, it's a transition from the relentless focus on cost-cutting for traditional companies facing new challenges. Instead, we're seeing a more balanced approach that enables an organization not only to improve operating efficiency but also to upgrade its capabilities to respond to market needs more quickly.
Chris Carpenter, VP of business improvement at Turner Broadcasting Company, put it well.
"We don't only focus on cost cutting process improvement," he said, "but on finding and developing new platforms and systems to engender new business opportunity and top line growth."
About the Author
Dave Landa is the former CEO of Kintone and has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) application providers dating back to 2004.