System InfrastructureBy Peter Elings & Doug Oliver | Posted 09-28-2010
Global Transformation Readiness, Part 3
Data and Reporting Standardization
Even with a sound business model and governance framework in place, the organization will be disadvantaged without the appropriate level of data standardization to make informed decisions. The nuances and level of data standardization required for an organization's optimal future state varies. Data and reporting standardization requirements are partly dependent upon the organization's operating environment. Common metrics require common data definitions. Chemical companies, for example, drive a high level of standardization in reporting because they leverage common materials, processes, and customers globally. To help determine the optimal future target for data and reporting transformation, consider the following readiness checklist:
- Do common data and metric definitions already exist?
- Do you already have global data governance processes?
- How far do you want to drive global data standardization?
- Does your enterprise consider data a core strategic asset?
- What data domain is the most valuable asset?
For a company that produces the same products using the same processes globally, standardized global reporting makes sense. However, don't drive data standards that won't make any business sense.The value of data assets varies from enterprise to enterprise. For example, a medical device manufacturer may consider its research data to be most valuable to the organization.
The state and complexity of the organization's existing systems infrastructure arguably has the greatest impact on the complexity and associated level of effort. Even if the business model is global in nature, the governance model is properly aligned, and the data is future-state ready, technology infrastructure issues can derail the transformation project. System disparity is typical for companies that have grown through acquisition since these organizations have the highest level of system diversity.
Companies that have grown organically with a common system landscape have a lower level of complexity in this area. Regardless, without a thorough infrastructure assessment, an organization can spend unnecessary resources and capital making incremental changes to the remaining feeding systems to meet the needs of the new global system well into the future. Developing an architecture landscape helps the organization understand how your technology supports your operations. Consider the following infrastructure readiness questions:
- How does your current IT architecture house and support your data?
- What are your core (business critical) systems?
- How complex and diverse is your legacy landscape?
- How accurate and current are your documentation and operation guides?
- How mature are your service delivery and support processes (ITIL)?
- What are the volume and validity of the current data?
- Does your IT strategy differ from country to country?
- What percentage of your IT is outsourced versus housed internally?
You may encounter different, and potentially conflicting, motivations during your discussions of future system infrastructure. For example, a global CIO and a local CIO will have very different agendas for how to support an IT infrastructure.