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Business and IT Alignment

A tried and true constant of business is the need to evolve. Ipreo is a company going through constant evolution, and as part of that evolution, a new TechOps organization sprang to life to meet the needs of the business.

As Ipreo’s Managing Director of TechOps, my challenge was to create and align this organization to new needs of the business.

Smart organizations leverage experienced executives’ strengths to provide ultimate value to the franchise.  And for any executive who embarks on a new challenge, there are three critical abilities that need to be harnessed: Observation, Listening, and Synthesis.

The first phase of my TechOps leadership centered on applying these abilities to the team at Ipreo. At the end of that phase, several important learnings emerged that are very likely not unique to Ipreo and may be affecting your organization in real-time.

1. Some Explanation Required. There was both a hunger for and lack of connection to the “Why?” behind certain projects.

“What’s the importance of a new build out? Yes, it is understood that project is high priority – but why?  What opportunity is it going to solve? How much does Ipreo stand to benefit from that opportunity? What’s important to the leadership of this company and how does the work I do relate to that?”

This change is relatively easy to implement and can have a great impact, but it relies on the leader to be proactive. Effective leaders take the time and energy to communicate context to the work their organization is doing. As the purpose behind initiatives is understand, engagement increases.

2. Culture Counts! While pride, passion, talent and professionalism in TechOps was very strong, there was a cultural disconnect in regards to how work was being done.

Earlier in my career at Ipreo, I initiated a move to “agile software development.” TechOps became one of the first parts of the company outside of Software Engineering to go agile, which fits into the strategic concept of “Holistic Agile”.  We literally changed the way we worked. Cross-teaming, removing blockers and delivering quality solutions quickly were outcomes of that initial launch.  Since that time Ipreo has greatly invested in agile transformation under the leadership of my colleague Mary Thorn.

I became the product owner of our scrum team, grooming a backlog and having twice weekly scrum meetings.  What works for our team is to follow the Kanban style of work.  We groom the backlog regularly. TechOps does have to react frequently to unplanned initiatives so we must make our planned work count!

3. A Little Less Individual, A Little More Team. Sacrificing some individual efficiency for the sake of greater organizational efficiency can go a long way.

There is a tendency to be task oriented, especially with team members who work in isolation, e.g. system engineers. In parallel with a new approach to working was creating a vision to focus on solutions instead of tasks. Completing an end-to-end solution delivers a lot more value to the business then one of my top Systems Engineers completing their to-do list.

4. Alignment Matters. We’ve been consciously evolving from geographically-aligned to discipline-aligned. As part of Ipreo’s global reach, we need to ensure that our experts always have the right global responsibilities, enabling us to the needs of our business. To that end we set out to design what a Global TechOps organization looks like and put the right people in the right seats with the right level of ownership. (In a future piece, I will dive deeper into the topic of global alignment.)

The implementation of these learnings is no small feat, but neither is the impact they can have on an organization. As your business evolves, so must the way the organization, and its leadership, responds.