Help, my IT organization can't keep up with the change!

By Jessica Drake Wetsteijn

In my role as a consultant, I often get to peek behind the scenes at other organizations, where the question is frequently asked, "Is it just us?" Fortunately, the answer to that question is often "No." Many organizations face similar challenges. Thankfully, those questions are not unique.

In this blog, I address the question of why many internal IT organizations struggle to keep up with organizational change after an initial outsourcing.

In deze blog sta ik stil bij de vraag waarom veel eigen IT organisaties moeite hebben om de organisatorische verandering, na een eerste outsourcing, bij te benen.

Within the government, it is common (or even mandatory) to outsource a part or the entire IT through a (European) tender or RfP process. The contracting organization often starts by drafting a descriptive document, which is prepared independently or with the assistance of a consulting firm. After the actual tendering process, the transition to the new supplier begins.

But then what?

The tender process leads to various changes in methodologies, processes, and procedures. The old IT organization is no longer in technical control; that responsibility has been transferred to the new supplier. You are now steering the supplier based on results.

This requires adaptability from the IT organization, such as the specialist who used to be hands-on and now needs to guide the supplier on a specific topic.

It may also involve saying goodbye to colleagues because fewer people are needed to do the work.

Colleagues who secure positions in the new organization will continue with the activities they were involved in before the tender and/or contribute to the project's transition. This often leads to a busy period within the department, perhaps even too busy due to the combination of transition and maintaining ongoing operations.

Due to this busyness, there is often insufficient attention given to the new activities that the change has brought about, causing the department to fall behind. This includes activities such as setting up supplier management, portfolio management, and contract management.

How can you prevent this?

Let's go back to the beginning. Before even drafting the tender, it is wise to consider at least the following questions:

  • What strategy does the organization have?
  • What do I want to achieve with the tender?
  • What knowledge/roles/people do I need during and after the tender?
  • What is the effect of the tender on my organization?

The answers to these questions, along with a set of other questions, form the sourcing strategy.

By creating this strategy, you gain insight into what you need to accurately request in the tender (suitable for the organization), as well as what you will need after the tender to successfully implement the change within your organization.

The change does not begin after the tender; it starts when you begin considering outsourcing the IT.

The next step after the sourcing strategy is defining the renewed organization, the governance organization. Properly establishing a governance organization is an important aspect that is often addressed too late (after the tender). By establishing the governance organization beforehand, everyone can find their position, and you can align the new tasks and responsibilities.

Perhaps you can configure the governance organization with a (significant) part of the existing organization. In any case, engage in conversations with colleagues; there's a good chance that some colleagues have ambitions beyond their current roles.

This approach can help you retain colleagues and keep their expertise within the organization. Additionally, they can contribute to the tender process.

Involvement/contribution to a process like this ultimately generates more support.

Setting up a governance organization requires time, clarity, and patience. After all, it's a change that impacts the entire organization.

Therefore, when setting up a governance organization, consider the following points:

  • Take your time and communicate
  • Implement a governance organization that suits the organization and its goals
  • Define the structure, processes, and roles of the governance organization
  • Engage in discussions with involved colleagues
  • Select colleagues for the governance organization based on their competencies. The right person in the right place!
  • Establish guidelines and determine the tasks and responsibilities for each role with the involved parties. This way, everyone finds their position and understands the value they can add.
  • Try to avoid as many combination roles as possible. Some roles can be well combined with one colleague, but try to prevent situations where the 'butcher inspects their own meat' or where one colleague is involved with the supplier on operational, tactical, and strategic levels.
  • And finally, dare to attract new expertise.

By following these steps, your IT organization will have a clearer understanding of what is needed to establish a governance organization. This way, the team knows what is expected of them and doesn't need to fill in the gaps. This creates an organization that is more agile, has control, and can provide integrated services to the customer.

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