IT leaders: Do you really have your stakeholders aligned?

michael-garrett2.jpgYear after year you see alignment with the business as a top CIO goal. In CIO Magazine’s most recent State of the CIO Survey, 55% of respondents say that aligning IT initiatives with business goals is the activity that consumes the majority of their time. And yet alignment is something IT leaders continually struggle with. The customers I talk to—heads of global IT departments—are searching for ways to get everyone on the same level of understanding about the problem, the solution and the benefits. Frankly, the complexity of large IT projects—as well as IT’s traditional position at a remove from the business—makes this objective hard to achieve.

 

But hard does not mean impossible. In HP Software Professional Services we’ve had great success with what we call Transformation Experience Workshops, designed to build trust and understanding among stakeholders so that there’s clarity and support on a business case for transformation projects. I’ll share some of the tried and true principles of these workshops so that you can use them to get alignment in your own organisation. (To learn more about our methodologies for success, check out our ebook, ‘Deliver business value.’)

 

3 keys to a successful transformation exercise

At HP Discover, Transformation Experience Workshops are some of our most popular offerings (at one Discover, we ran more than 30 and only stopped there because we ran out of rooms to have them in). This kind of popular demand speaks to the interest that people have in finding a way to justify the economics and benefits of their program.

 

We invented these transformation workshops over 10 years ago, starting with the first one we ran for a customer in the UK. Over the years we developed a methodology that’s become companywide across different BUs. What makes a successful transformation exercise? Here are three pointers:

 

1. Get your major stakeholders together, away from the everyday. Depending on the sort of workshop we’re doing we’ll spend anywhere from a few hours to a full day together.  This includes line of business stakeholders – often IT’s main customers.  We’ll bring some of our most experienced transformation pros to this, but in a large part they’re facilitating a conversation. Alignment happens when IT understands where the business is going and the business understands what the IT transformation is going to do and what the end state looks like. To achieve this you need a collaborative approach where everyone is heard.

 

2. Be prepared to engage and leave email at home. I believe a big part of these workshops’ success is that they’re extremely interactive, almost physical. So instead of a room full of people sitting back and passively watching PowerPoint, you have a group that is interacting with each other (instead of slides we bring large-scale panels to the group, creating a 3D gallery that people can gather around). Professional Services expert Tony Price has written about running these workshops and asking participants to collaborate on finding faster ways to pass a ball from one side of the room to the other. You get a visceral, physical understanding of the problem and solution when you get out from behind the projector.

 

3. Create the map together. A big part of these workshops is the journey map we create with customers. So we’ll take Post-its for action items or considerations and place them on a map that’s almost like a Tube map. Where are you going? What needs to happen? This way you can easily identify the signposts along the way, as well as the barriers and the issues while you’re getting alignment. At the end, you want everyone to have a clear idea of what it looks like when you’re three years in the future having gone through this. The end result is a roadmap that all stakeholders own.

 

Many consultants have workshop methodologies that take people from A to B. But we’ve found our method consistently gets better alignment and engagement. When we run these we see an almost 100% success rate on follow-on business because they result in such clarity around the solution benefits.

 

If you’re interested in learning more, contact HP Software Professional Services. Or check out this brief about one of our most requested workshops at HP Discover: The HP Service and Integration Management (SIAM) Transformation Experience Workshop. We also offer workshops around Cloud, IT Management, Enterprise Agility, Mobility, and many more.

 

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