Innovation through IT Consolidation and Shared Services

The Canadian Federal Government is commencing consolidation of its IT Service across the board.  IT consolidation is not new by any means. Large companies and other government organizations have been doing this for some time in order to become more streamlined and to benefit from economies of scale. The opportunities to innovate and improve services through this change are colossal. There are a large number of products and services coming together to enable one department to look after the entire organization’s needs.

One of the biggest challenges is going from dozens and dozens of teams down to a select few.

  • How do you select which members, products and services to maintain?

The answer to finding which teams, products and services is not easy however the answer lies in where the organization wants to go as a whole in the next 5 to 10 years.

  • What do the organizations innovation vision and mission state?

If you want the team to be innovative and best in class then take a look around at:

a)    the departments that have been most innovative in the past; and

b)    the systems that are have been efficient, and are currently working well – meaning the systems that do what the clients want them to do.

  • Which current systems and departments follow best practices?
  • How will the systems work once more departments are added?
  • What is going on in the IT industry and other large organizations? How does this fit in with the systems you are selecting?

The second challenge, as someone who thinks about future development, is to leave opportunities for innovation to occur once the systems are in place. This needs to be thought through as the consolidation planning begins. There needs to be enough flexibility in the systems and the teams to be able to continue innovating once the majority of the changes are put in place.

One recommendation is to have an innovation team working full time to ensure they are continually looking at future opportunities. Have these folks continue working in their area of expertise though so they have their ears and eyes on what is really happening in the field and know what their clients are lacking as well to ensure they maintain their credibility amongst their peers in the area they will look at to innovate. Change is difficult for everyone; however, when it is someone you know well and trust who is bringing in the change then people are more open to the change.

A final challenge is using this opportunity to change processes. There are certainly going to be process changes for the entire organization due to the transformation but this is also an opportunity to change the processes as new technologies and discoveries from all of the departments are brought in. This means potentially changing processes for the system that was selected based on your findings. While this may appear to be too much for the organization to handle with so many changes already occurring, process change is where even more time and money savings will come from. Change is hard for people in an organization to take in and start using. Minimizing the number of times change is brought in will help to alleviate the anxiety and adjustment around change.

These are by no means all of the challenges being faced bringing forward IT consolidation and shared services; however, as a person who spends their time thinking about the future and innovation these are top of mind.