I wrote last week about our printer rationalisation project, which is one of a number of projects designed to reduce costs, but which can be seen as a threat. It is time to take turn threats into opportunities.
Costs are very much on the corporate agenda at the moment and there are likely to be some very challenging times ahead. We, as an organisation, are in a position where all the easy savings have already been made, so now we are investigating more radical cost-saving options.
The IT management team is working hard at the moment to rebrand ourselves as a consultancy service, which provides expert advice on business processes and technology as a means of identifying efficiencies. I want the team to be at the heart of the transformation process and to lead on many of the efficiency projects.
We’re looking at using a methodology called LEAN. It fits in quite well with the sort of analysis we do anyway, but puts more of an emphasis on efficiency. It does mean that we have to be a bit more challenging when gathering user requirements, but generally people understand that we have to make the savings wherever we can.
The rebranding process is proving tricky; there are some parts of the organisation that still see us as technology providers, and as well as fielding questions and complaints about printers, we’re also being asked about iPads and iPhones. You’d think that people would realise that in the current climate, expensive gadgets are not on the agenda.
My guess is that, generally, people tend to focus on the tangible bits of IT. It’s much easier to engage someone in a discussion about printers than abstract topics such as data quality or business process.
I haven’t found a way yet to convince people that technology is only a part of what we do, and it’s something that I’m still working on. To really get the point across we’d probably have to change our name from IT to something like the Business Efficiency Unit, but that makes us sound too much like bean counters.
The important thing is that the people who are driving the efficiency savings – the senior finance team – understand that we have a key role to play, and, since we’re getting better at identifying potential savings, our contribution is becoming valued even more. And it is in times such as these it’s good to be valued by the people who are responsible for finding the savings!