In this quarter’s Expert Corner, our leaders weigh in on embracing technology, collaborative innovation, and multi-vendor management

Embracing Technology

Dave Allston, Partner

expert-corner-daveWhat is keeping you up at night?

Divisiveness between IT and its business partners that exists in so many companies. Too many people still refer to IT’s business partners across an enterprise as “the business.” Is the IT function not part of the business? I see IT personnel (including senior IT executives) refer to their business partners as their “customers” or their “clients,” and I see non-IT personnel acting as if they believe IT is simply a cost center and overhead. These attitudes lead to behaviors that limit effectiveness and productivity. In this day and age, with technology being so vital to enabling an organization’s strategy, I believe better collaboration is required to drive sustainable innovation and growth.

How are your clients addressing these concerns?

Some of our clients are being very intentional about using the right language to describe their “partners” across the business. As a result, they are developing the right behaviors, or habits, that are generating a more constructive mindset. Consequently, they are bringing all technology stakeholders together as partners and are establishing effective management structures that encourage collaboration and effective decision-making. Other clients are also being very deliberate about defining the strategic objectives for their business and then working across all business functions (including those functions that support technology) to develop strategic plans. This approach will allow each function to evolve and operate in a way that enables the company to execute its stated strategy. The companies that are thinking holistically about their strategy by looking at the culture, organizational design, the support processes they perform, and their technology-related architectures are beginning to thrive.

What advice would you give to leaders facing these challenges?

Technology does not simply support your business. In today’s world, IT in many ways drives your business. Thinking of it as a necessary evil or simply a cost center is not helping your organization realize its potential. Embrace technology as a key enabler to your business and demonstrate your appreciation for the impact it can have on helping you achieve your strategic objectives. Anything you can do to eliminate the “us vs. them” mindset that can persist will only make your people more productive and your business more successful!

Questions about Embracing Technology? Email Dave

Collaborative Innovation

Jay Jayasuriya, Senior Manager

What is keeping you up at night?

Efficiency, or lack thereof, is what always keeps me up at night. Our clients, across a multitude of industries, are pushed now, more than ever, to find more efficient and effective methods to combat lower market prices and lower margins. Plainly put, organizations must find a more cost-efficient way to do things better and faster to drive value in the long-term.

How are your clients addressing these concerns?

Mostly, our clients are striving to strategically improve long-term processes, and some are wisely investing in technology solutions to decrease redundancy, increase scalability, and foster growth. For example, it was not long ago when power trading organizations would essentially do “whatever it takes” to get trades and services agreements in place and let the operational end sort itself out behind the curtains. This often led to ad-hoc solutions and processes that tended to inhibit proper scale and growth and worse, made these deals difficult throughout the company.

What advice would you give to leaders facing these challenges?

Promote Collaborative Innovation. Work together throughout the entire organization to identify gaps, inefficiencies, redundancies, and pain points, as opposed to working in silos. This is the biggest difference between solving for proper growth towards future sustainability and allowing problems to tick away, until your business issues come to a boil. Proper investment in efficiency, scalability, and sustainability, in terms of technology and processes, will drive productivity and allow organizations to capture value and margins more effectively.

Questions about Collaborative Innovation? Email Jay

Multi-Vendor Management

Susanne Turnbo, Principal

What is keeping you up at night?

Most of us know that as we progress in our careers, many things start keeping us up at night. For me, lately it is the management of IT delivery in multi-vendor environments. And with more companies opting for outsourced service models, I know I am in good company. There are numerous benefits that can be realized from agreements of this type, but after the honeymoon period ends, it can be a cautionary tale if not well managed.

How are your clients addressing these concerns?

Delivering new, complex solutions is hard enough without the challenges presented by teams of varying vendors located across different geographies and time zones. Although some companies seem to handle this better than others, the difference between success and a death spiral can sometimes be found in subtleties. When things get rocky, strong or dominant management styles may prevail in the hopes of gaining better results. Tools such as cultural sensitivity training and team building events are often employed. Some have initiated programs aimed at aligning company and partner roles in more efficient ways, along with training on how to work together more effectively.

What advice would you give to leaders facing these challenges?

First, take a deep breath. Start by establishing clear expectations, roles, and responsibilities between both company, team members, and the outsourcing provider. If people don’t know what they are supposed to do, it is hard to hold them accountable. Also, consider defining clear escalation paths within the outsourcer organization so medium-sized issues can be elevated easily before becoming large ones. As for the agreement itself, look for that delicate balance where both parties benefit in some way. Negative effects of a greatly lopsided agreement can manifest over time and cost money. And while the contract is important, it should not be used as a vehicle to manage the day-to-day. There will always be problems in business, but your ability to solve them depends not only on the skills of the people, but also their ability to work together.

Questions about Multi-Vendor Management? Email Susanne