I recently completed an interview with the VP of patient management for a large healthcare organization. When introducing herself, she said that her responsiblity is “connecting the dots”. I asked her what kind of dots, and she said “We have a software application for everything we do — I must get them talking to each other and this is a challenge.” I asked her what the role of IT. Her answer was “they do a good job of maintaining the applications, but not so much on cross-functional processes”.
Is this an unusual situation? Obviously not. A recent Forrester survey of 141 organizations shows that in 78% of organizations business executives — not IT — drive process improvement initiatives. I assume that most of these initiatives are about “connecting the dots”.
I think that IT decision-makers can do a lot more to improve business processes, in particular cross-functional processes. Acting as agents of process improvement, they need to re-focus their teams from supporting tech platforms to optimizing cross-functional processes. As one of these change-agents pointed out in a recent interview “ No single functional department owns end-to-end order-to-cash. IT can help a company see something that is hard to see”. (see this report)
Working with several IT decision-makers, I developed a few recommendations for change-agents who aim to increase the business orientation and efficiency of their organizations:
- Focus on business enablement through service orientation
- Leverage consolidation and shared services programs to address business optimizations
- Orchestrate IT's demand and supply functions for providing services
- Coordinate service delivery across business organizations
- Help IT governance and business requirements to converge
What do you think? Is my analysis correct? Do these recommendations help you in “connecting the dots”? I look forward to your feedback.