In a recent post I wrote about a pair of innovative plans that will shape the future of federal IT. Cloud First and Share First have the potential to truly transform government IT.
As with most innovations, the hard work begins soon after the “wow factor” wears off. So how do you successfully execute a large-scale IT transformation? What is the secret sauce?
The two key ingredients for IT transformation
Through my work with clients, and through experience at HP with our own IT transformation, I believe there are two key things you need to have in place:
- Your leadership needs to be evangelistic. IT transformation is bigger than IT. When you’re consolidating data centers you’ve got facilities involved. Business processes are involved. It requires real leadership.
- You need to be ruthless about application rationalization. This is truly the secret ingredient. Application rationalization forces you to get serious about standardization and process and makes you focus on what really matters. I saw this in HP’s transformation: We had over 12,000 applications and brought that down to less than 5,000. When you do that, you can truly consolidate your data centers, automate and create shared services.
When you have executive sponsorship and you’re serious about turning off applications, that’s when transformation can work
Getting value from data center consolidation with shared services
Why are these two ingredients so important? They’re absolutely necessary for data center consolidation, which in turn is necessary if – like many government agencies – you’re creating a private enterprise cloud.
What can happen all too often is that you create a brand new data center, and everyone shows up with all their “stuff.” If you simply move it over, then even though it might be new hardware and new technologies, what you’ve ended up with is one big expensive data center. This isn’t data center consolidation – it’s a tech refresh.
When you consolidate your applications into one data center you have the opportunity to create a shared services model as well as consolidate redundancies which is where you really find value.
How to get to a shared services model
Creating a shared services model isn’t easy. The hardest part is getting independent business areas to agree on a shared vision of the capabilities they need. For example, one area that’s already been consolidated is financial. If I’m doing billing and invoicing and collection and I’ve got a set of chartered accounts, just because one line of business is providing products and another LOB is selling services, we should be able to have the same financial system.
There are a lot of shared services that haven’t evolved yet like they have on the financial side, especially in the federal space. HR is one example: There are great tools on the commercial side, but there’s opportunity to consolidate in government. Other opportunities include print services, collaboration services, data call and collection services, and business reporting and analytics. (Standing up an enterprise data warehouse and having people use that instead of all their data marts would really save a lot of money.)
The only way to do this is to create enterprise applications versus point solutions for each line of business. You need to look at each LOB and see which applications they’re using and what business function the applications are supporting. Is it data analytics? Print services? How does IT meet that business objective? And then figure out how you can have a common solution that meets those needs.
Doing this requires some enterprise architecture work as well as a strong governance model for your applications. Every time there’s an application that somebody wants to buy, people should stop and say “Wait a minute, are we already doing this somewhere? Can we share?”