In our daily work, eMentum staff partner with clients to address significant business needs and technical challenges. Along the way, we support them in locking-down security, overseeing implementation activities, complying with regulations, and improving operational efficiency. To achieve this, we engage stakeholders at all levels in our clients’ organizations, implementing modern technologies and methodologies that align with their business requirements and culture.
Recently, we evaluated our own business operating environment to consider ways in which we could improve our operations and secure our systems and data. This effort made clear that our technology infrastructure warranted attention. It had not been refreshed or actively managed for too long, and several critical business functions were poorly supported. We also found that our platform was not structured for easy collaboration or for elastic scalability.
We began by analyzing the current state of our systems and operations. To do this, we assessed our challenges with sharing knowledge and maintaining collaboration on project teams, evaluated security vulnerabilities, and envisioned how we wanted to work in the future. With an array of opportunities to make significant improvements, we prioritized our list, accounted for order dependencies, and considered options.
While ultimately beneficial, we knew that the changes we planned to make would be disruptive as we transitioned from current state to desired state. Our first step was to present our recommendations to the executive staff to get their buy-in and support. We proposed to migrate our corporate systems to cloud-hosted SaaS solutions for accounting, asset management and administration, and critical system backups. Relying on subscription-based SaaS solutions would reduce our license costs, a benefit not limited to small businesses. This change would allow us to pay only for the product features and seats we need and only for the time we need them (vs. purchasing long-duration licenses and installing applications on individual machines). We would also improve access to core business systems by making them available on more platforms (e.g., mobile devices) and by offering simultaneous multi-user views of shared information enabled us to streamline processes and to rely on “a single view of the truth”.
We also transitioned to the Microsoft Office 365 platform as a way of improving internal communication and collaboration and to simplify user account management along with access to corporate information resources. We iteratively rolled out platform features, presenting “brown bag” sessions, new SOPs, and best-practice guides to maximize our use of the Office 365 capabilities most important to our business. We substantially renovated our corporate SharePoint site by upgrading platform versions, introducing a modern design, and streamlining access to critical information through rationalized folder structures and enhanced search functions.
Finally, we applied security best-practices to batten down our back-office, restructuring our network architecture to segregate our most sensitive systems and information. This included a rationalization of roles and access controls applied to SharePoint resources and OneDrive folders. Through that process, we examined business functions and employee’s participation in them, narrowing access only to resources necessary for staff to conduct their work.
As part of setting delivery objectives and developing business cases for our proposed improvements, we identified key stakeholders for each effort and developed communication plans to engage them in the process. We then established an Agile process to work through items at a steady pace. The sprint model ensured we showed continuous improvement while maintaining alignment with corporate objectives and engaging stakeholders through the transitions. At regularly scheduled meetings, we reviewed progress, monitored issues, identified risks, and developed mitigation strategies.
Along the way, we recognized that our internal IT transformation program presented an excellent learning opportunity. While our focus is always on our clients and their objectives, the program we undertook to address our own needs was an opportunity to experience the eMentum delivery process from the other side. The lessons we learned through our internal IT transformation required us to align technology changes with business objectives, get buy-in and commitment from Executive staff, engage stakeholders through the delivery process, and help users get the most out of new systems. In this case, we were our own client, and while eMentum is benefitting from the technology changes we implemented, our clients are benefitting from the improvements we subsequently made to our program management and delivery processes.
Have you gained insight into your service delivery practices by acting as your own customer? What lessons have you learned?
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