"Our IT-business communication plan is designed to ensure alignment at the strategic, project, and day-to-day support levels, with forums that allow escalation or decision-making to happen closer to real-time when an issue is identified," says Anderson. This includes:
- Frequent strategic meetings with company ownership and business unit leaders to review the IT portfolio;
- Project meetings that include everyone from the executive sponsor to the ultimate end-user;
- Status for all IT projects communicated via weekly email and an internal portal for anyone to review.
After that, Anderson made sure that the appropriate governance was in place to manage the growing portfolio of initiatives under his purview. When he dug into the IT portfolio of projects, he found that there were too many small projects that did not align well with the company's strategy. He turned this on its head, focusing instead on fewer projects that were directly aligned with the business plans. "This has allowed us to really move the dial on strategic efforts, such as growing our revenues non-linearly with costs and greatly increasing our customer-facing IT efforts," Anderson says.
Lastly, Anderson says that prior to his arrival (and before the last economic downturn), Marquette Group and U.S. Motivation did not manage its spend on infrastructure as well as it should have, leading to ever-increasing costs just to "keep the lights on." Anderson responded by creating a business operations function within IT. This group is responsible for tracking every external IT cost, benchmarking these costs externally, and re-bidding these costs at defined intervals to ensure the company is not paying too much for services. "As a fringe benefit, our business leadership has allowed us to re-invest a portion of these savings into new IT development," says Anderson.
Peter High is president of Metis Strategy, a boutique IT-strategy consultancy based in Washington, DC. A contributor to CIO Insight, Peter is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, and the moderator of the podcast, The Forum on World Class IT. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.