Align IT with the Real End Customer

Ensure IT and the business are working towards the same goal: improving customer experience.


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Your Challenge

  • Organizations are becoming increasingly focused on the customer and much of this focus places technology at the center. However, the business units feel uncomfortable working with IT for customer-related projects because they don’t believe that IT understands the customer. IT struggles to understand what they should be doing different to support this growing customer-focus.
  • Often by the time feedback from the customer reaches IT, it has been passed through many layers of the organization, altering the message. This process of passing on feedback is typically slow, delaying changes to customer solutions.
  • Despite being uniquely positioned across the organization, IT is generally removed from decisions regarding the end customer. IT staff are unsure how to come forth with ideas that could benefit the end customer resulting in many good ideas going unnoticed.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Becoming aligned with the customer is doable. By taking a step-by-step, holistic approach, the CIO can build a customer-centric IT department.
  • Business unit heads are a key partner throughout this project. IT must engage the customer with the business.
  • To minimize surprises, build an iterative process called a feedback loop to continually respond to customer preferences.

Impact and Result

  • Being successful does not require turning your developers into sales representatives. Instead, take a process-driven approach, grounded in what you know.
  • IT and the business must collaborate to talk to the customer together rather than the business passing on customer feedback to IT. Changing the process is absolutely essential to the success of this project.
  • Develop feedback loops between IT and the customer. Balance the feedback mechanism you choose with the size of investment and the delay your organization is willing to undertake.

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Get to Action

  1. Investigate the challenges and review the benefits of IT and customer alignment

    Determine the motivators for IT and customer alignment and assess readiness to proceed.

  2. Build the IT and customer alignment charter

    Socialize and gain buy-in for the IT and customer alignment project.

  3. Assess current IT and customer processes

    Document a starting point for IT and customer process discussions and identify key pain points.

  4. Select target IT and customer processes

    Assess feedback mechanisms, select the most suitable one, and update process maps to reflect the target state.

  5. Determine process modifications

    Identify gaps and initiatives necessary to move from the current to the target state.

  6. Refine the organizational design

    Update your organizational design to ensure the smooth flow of customer information.

  7. Motivate IT staff

    Ensure IT metrics are aligned with new processes.

  8. Communicate effectively

    Outline the project vision and pinpoint impact on specific stakeholders to ensure smooth communication.

  9. Train IT staff

    “Break the mold” with training methods and provide IT staff with the opportunity to interact with the customer.

Guided Implementation icon Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is an eleven call advisory process.

    Guided Implementation #1 - Launch the Project

  • Call #1: Introducing project steps and assessing member fit.

  • Call #2: Gathering requirements: identifying and interviewing stakeholders.

  • Call #3: Creating a project charter.

  • Guided Implementation #2 - Plan the Project

  • Call #1: Building a plan and examining current processes.

  • Call #2: Determining target state processes.

  • Call #3: Closing gaps, determining and prioritizing intiatives.

  • Call #4: Refining the organizational design.

  • Call #5: Motivating IT staff during and after the project.

  • Guided Implementation #3 - Implement the Project

  • Call #1: Creating the communication plan.

  • Call #2: Designing a training plan.

  • Call #3: Moving forward with implementation.

Onsite Workshop

Module 1: Investigate the Challenges and Review the Benefits of Aligning IT with the End Customer

The Purpose

  • Identification of the issues that arise when IT is not properly aligned with the customer. 
  • Identification of potential benefits that will be achieved when IT is aligned with the customer. 
  • Assessment of what is necessary to be ready to align IT with the customer.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Clear conceptualization of the challenges and benefits associated with IT and customer alignment.
  • Readiness to proceed with the rest of the blueprint, following a step-by-step, holistic approach for aligning IT with the customer.

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Identify current pain points
  • List of current pain points
1.2 Identify opportunities
  • List of opportunities
1.3 Review the readiness checklist
  • Go/No-Go Decision

Module 2: Build the IT and Customer Alignment Charter

The Purpose

  • Socialize the project and gain buy-in and support from business units.
  • Make certain the business is on the same page with regards to customer-centricity to ensure project success.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Have a solid understanding of stakeholders and specific strategies for addressing each group.
  • Ability to align the project benefits with business drivers. 
  • Identification of key success metrics and establishment of baselines and targets.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Identify and interview key stakeholders
  • Stakeholder interview guide and strategy
2.2 Identify business drivers
  • Business drivers and project fit
2.3 Tie project benefits to business drivers
  • Project benefits tied to business drivers
2.4 Define metrics
  • List of direct and intermediary metrics

Module 3: Assess Current IT and Customer Processes

The Purpose

  • Gain an understanding of the starting point for IT and customer processes.
  • Identify what is and is not working to help structure target state. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Thorough and structured review and assessment of your current IT and customer processes.
  • Evaluation of the pain points associated with those processes.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Map current IT and customer processes
  • Current process flow diagram
3.2 Identify process pain points and drill down on root causes
  • List of process pain points and root causes

Module 4: Select Target IT and Customer Processes

The Purpose

  • Gain an understanding of the starting point for IT and customer processes.
  • Identify what is and is not working to help structure target state.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Clear idea of what IT and customer processes look like in a target state.
  • An assessment of feedback mechanisms and their different use cases.

Activities: Outputs:
4.1 Examination of the last project completed and whether or not feedback mechanisms could have alleviated pain
  • List of pain points that feedback mechanisms could have eliminated in the last project
4.2 Discuss feasibility and use cases of different feedback mechanisms
  • Idea of which feedback mechanism is best suited to your unique needs
4.3 Draft target state process flows
  • Target process flow diagram

Module 5: Determine Process Mofications

The Purpose

  • Determine what initiatives are necessary to close the gaps between the current and target state process flows.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Understanding of which initiatives to implement, which to disregard, and which to save for a later implementation date.
  • Ability to begin thinking about the initiatives that are necessary to complete first and being to move forward with preparing for them.

Activities: Outputs:
5.1 Brainstorm initiatives to close gaps between the current and target state
  • List of gaps that exist between current and target state
5.2 Prioritize initiatives by importance
  • List of initiatives necessary to close gaps
5.3 Create timeline of initiatives
  • Prioritization and timeline of initiatives

Module 6: Refine Organizational Design

The Purpose

  • Organizational design should reflect a smooth flow of customer information to match newly designed processes.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Recognize the importance of designing an organization that fosters collaboration with the customer.
  • Conduct a thorough examination of the options for embedding IT in the business.
  • Define key organizational design objectives and outline organizational design initiatives.

Activities: Outputs:
6.1 Establish culture
  • Checklist to assess culture
6.2 Define key objectives
  • List of key objectives
6.3 Embed IT in the business
  • Assessment of options for embedding IT in the business
6.4 Tailor model to fit organization
  • List of questions to consider when right-sizing to fit the organization
6.5 Outline organizational design initiatives
  • List of organizational design initiatives

Module 7: Motivate IT Staff

The Purpose

  • Given that the target processes for many IT staff have now changed, it is essential that the methods in which they are measured and motivated reflect this.
  • Motivate IT staff beyond building a system that works to one that is truly innovative.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Understand the importance of updating IT staff motivation to fit with new processes.
  • Examine how IT staff are currently measured and motivated.
  • Determine desired behaviors and new metrics and motivation strategies to match.

Activities: Outputs:
7.1 Examine IT’s current metrics
  • Inventory of IT’s current metrics
7.2 Identify new metrics based on desired behaviors
  • Outline of desired behaviors in IT and associated new metrics or values
7.3 Brainstorm and tie motivators to new metrics
  • List of motivators by employee groups and motivation strategies
7.4 Determine gaps and draft initiatives to address gaps
  • Draft of gaps and initiatives to address gaps

Module 8: Communicate Effectively

The Purpose

  • Having a shared vision is important, but stakeholders will want to know what this project means to them.
  • When preparing messages for each group identify the impact this change will have on their role.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Define the project vision and identify the communication plan for each stakeholder group at a high level.
  • Recognize what should be included in the initial presentation to stakeholders.

Activities: Outputs:
8.1 Define the vision
  • Outline of the vision
8.2 Create communication plan
  • Communication plan
8.3 Develop the stakeholder presentation
  • Stakeholder presentation

Module 9: Train IT Staff

The Purpose

  • Experiential training is an excellent way to “break the mold” with your training methods and provide IT staff with the opportunity to interact with the customer and to better understand their needs.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Recognition of the methods of experiential training and their feasibility in the organization.
  • Draft a proposed training plan including activities, timeline, and other key components.

Activities: Outputs:
9.1 Determine experiential training
  • Assessment of appropriateness for experiential training methods
9.2 Build a training plan
  • Training plan

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Onsite Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn’t enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our Project Workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a road map in place to complete your project successfully.

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