Premier 100 IT Leaders 2008

They're simplifying IT and showing the business how to innovate.

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"We're trying to eliminate the business [units] having to understand the structure and organization of IT and find their way to the right person to help with their problem," LaVelle says. Relationship managers work with the business people to streamline processes and ascertain their technology requirements. After that, they work one-on-one with software developers and IT architects in the IT organization.

"We sit in on weekly team meetings in operations, finance and sales, and we sit in on their meetings with their directors and senior executives to understand their strategic needs," LaVelle explains. "We're also responsible for building out the strategic road map. We understand where finance and sales and operations all want to go, so we bring that together in the [IT architecture]."

When Corporate Express acquired two companies in 2006 to expand into the facilities supplies market, the business relationship management group reduced a huge, multimillion-dollar business-IT integration program of 30 projects to 15 core programs.

"The key success of the program was that we were able to go back and spend additional time analyzing the requirements, benefits and efforts with both the business and IS stakeholders," LaVelle says. "This resulted in our senior leadership being presented with a roughly 50% reduced scope while still delivering the core business needs," all of which worked to integrate the new businesses much more quickly.

Optimizing Processes

At Verizon Wireless, Ajay Waghray, 45, maintains that IT simplification has to start with business process simplification — by far the greater challenge.

Consolidating 13 billing systems "sounds like a huge technical challenge," he says. "But the overriding thing was always to align with the business goals, which above all else is to provide customers with a consistent experience."

In addition to moving to a single system, the company had to set up a single billing organization to replace two billing departments. Legacies from two premerger companies, those departments operated under different management styles and used different development processes.

"The key is innovating and optimizing business processes," says Waghray, and he set out to do that under an extremely aggressive timeline of 12 to 18 months. He formed teams from the two billing groups to compare methodologies and processes, and he incorporated the best practices into the new organization. Waghray also met with department directors every two weeks to plan and evolve the new organizational structure. That included assigning employees to teams based on their skills, potential and interests. As one of the final decision-makers, he also participated in weekly calls to ensure timely decisions and full alignment between IT and the business. NEXT  

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