1. Propose an organizational structure for the IT department that you feel would support the transformation of AgCredit into a process-centric organization. Recognition of business ownership will be vital to the organizational structure. Having the business sign on and join the conversation about IT and related projects will be instrumental. A steering committee will be need to be part of the approval process of all projects is needed to make sure an enterprise view is taken. The multidivisional committee will need to ensure all projects fit within a SOA framework. The CIO should be involved in the boardroom and have access to senior management, including the CEO. The CIO should hire senior management that can convey departmental and business objects and help guide IT employees. Account managers for each LOB that reside in the business but report to senior IT management should be installed.
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The entire IT staff will need to be reassessed to ensure the proper people are in the right job roles. The IT function will need to be brought in alignment with the enterprise vision. One option is to try to promote internally for vacant IT positions and insource the roles that cannot be filled. Insourcing will have the distinct advantage of training IT personnel while getting the job done as well. Outsourcing IT functions that are not core competencies can also be employed if desired. AgCredit should appoint a CEO who is responsible for carrying out the strategic plan and will ultimately responsible for managing company operations coupled with a Vice President would oversee operations, carry out the strategic plan set forth by the CEO, and manage the four separate divisions.
The CIO would direct the IT department, which would include several IT senior leaders, as well as guide the company’s technological direction. The CFO would be largely involved with both the business and IT departments, helping to give a deeper understanding of cost components and act as an advisor to both IT and business regarding legacy software and future projects. A business analyst would be the link between the IT and business departments, matching technology to business needs, and predicting future business directions. The IT relationship manager would be the connection between the business and IT departments and would ensure the IT governance is translated into business terms.
Other staff could include an applications architect who would design applications, implement middleware and infrastructure; and a Network manager who would direct daily IT operations, test, deploy, and integrate network systems.
A steering committee will be needed to be implemented as part of the approval process of all projects.
2. Outline a project selection process for AgCredit to ensure alignment with the enterprise business vision. As mentioned in the last question, a steering committee that represents many LOBs will need to be formed and giving decision making capabilities. The process should begin by examining how a project ties to the overall vision of the company. Next the committee members should outline how the project effects their division and could be used to meet departmental needs if possible. Additionally it will need to make sure it fits within the SOA and is not duplicated by other software nodes or current processes. If it is an enhancement or add-on to another project, communication with the end user to see potential benefits should begin. Making sure it can be modularized and standardized for the business will be vital for the organization’s architecture. Additionally making sure all project types are considered and funded through a tax upon all LOBs will be required to support SOA.
3.How should Manley “make the case” for SOA to ensure that the executive team at AgCredit buys in? Manley will need to present the key strengths of SOA and make sure to focus on how it will support the company’s vision and goals. The transition will simplify the organization and speed up product implementation. Current services and products will be available or modified for usability. It supports web services that align with continuous growth opportunities, expanded customer relationships, and ability to cross-sell between the divisions. It will immediately offer up opportunities for the divisions both in terms of possible financial gains and stretching development dollars. Existing services can be purchased and implemented quickly within the SOA.
This increases our capabilities and ensures we stay caught up with the larger firms. In essence this can level the playing field providing valuable resources and systems. Once the customer information is centralized, which is required for SOA, the savings from reducing database needs will be realized. Having common processes will align the business as a whole and ensure value from increased communication and decreased uncertainty. This kind of technology base may allow the way we work to change, for example working from home or on the road working through a VPN.
4.What new internal IT capabilities will have to be developed in order to create an IT department to support AgCredit’s future business architecture? The capabilities needed to support the SOA from the IT perspective are management tools, information management tools, Information delivery options, development cycles, and a customer service attitude toward the divisions. Role clarification will be important in setting up these capabilities. Management tools include visioning and business alignment processes, funding methods, measurement metrics and focus, and monitoring methods.
Information management tools include collection activities, organize process including schemes and taxonomy, process modules to use the information, and maintenance procedures that support business functions. Development cycles must conform to SOA standards and guidelines, using compliant hardware and software to make systems that breakdown the functionality, and complaint with regulatory needs, including system proficiency in creating reports for audit purposes. The customer service attitude will be needed to manage perceptions and keep close ties with the business.
5.What aspects of IT governance do you think would be important in supporting this transformation? Before governance structures are formalized the enterprise and divisional vision and objectives should be outlined. With IT working alongside the business some guiding principles must be drafted up. This may involve setting up account managers within the LOB and forming a multidiscipline steering committee with considerable decision power. This steering committee should work closely with the CIO and have high level approval and corporate sponsorship. The governance system should focus on guiding the transformation process and keeping key issues in focus, such as sox and regulatory compliance. Stakeholder involvement in the steering committee will help the business and IT structures become partners and work together. It will ensure all voices are heard and considered in the decision making process. They should outline policy decisions that support the organization’s vision early on.