Troux 2011: Building the Business Case for EA

This was a panel discussion, consisting of:
Sean Dwyer, Northwestern Mutual
Jennifer Pfaff, Jacobs Engineering
J-P Renaud, Jacobs Engineering
Eivind Nilson, Liberty Mutual
Moderator: Chuck Keffer, Troux

Context: Today’s reality for the global 2000 CIO. The average tenure is 18 months. They need to get started fast and work fast. They face shrinking budgets, rising expectations, and a big focus on alignment with the business.

The average annual sales of a global 2000 company is around $15 billion, and on average, 4% of that goes to IT, yielding $600 million for discretionary spend. Unfortunately, 80% of that may be spent on keeping the lights on, and another 80% is already allocated to business driven IT efforts, leaving $24 million or less for the CIO that is truly discretionary.

Chuck then went into Troux’s question driven approach for driving business value out of EA. It’s focused on the questions that EA stakeholders are asking, and the decisions they need to make.

Q: What were the top three factors and/or considerations in building the business case for your 2011/2012 initiatives?
Sean: In 2010, they did a lot of pilot work in the APM space. They did some charts and graphs to show that they could add value. He built the “mother of all spreadsheets” to support this pilot work whose support could have been a full-time job. They made the decision to pursue tooling to support this, rather than the “Microsoft” stack. They then tried to align themselves with the IT business strategy, such as “simplifying the business technology environment.” It was going to be difficult to this without a robust portfolio management system.
Jennifer: They had a number of objectives. They wanted to maintain sustainability, improve business alignment, improve the IT planning and systems responsiveness. On sustainability, they wanted to avoid inventing the wheel and creating processes that would increase the amount of work they had to do. They wanted to simplify things.
J-P: He re-emphasized the sustainability point. They wanted to “operationalize” the data gathering exercise. There’s a big effort that goes into the initial data population and they wanted to make sure they had processes to keep it up to date without adding huge effort to the organization. They tried to rely on places where the information was already being entered, rather than adding a new step to existing processes.
Eiving: First, they needed a practice around application portfolio rationalization, and then had to do the rationalization itself. The insurance industry doesn’t have a tangible product, it’s a promise. Their systems are the products, then. Through acquisitions, it is painful for the business to have their products in multiple suites of insurance systems. Rationalization had to happen. They are also highly regulated at the state level and a significant effort is required to maintain compliance on every one of the systems. This impacts their agility. Second, once the team was formed, they looking into tooling, including sustainability, operationalization, and business alignment. They wanted to be able to engage the business in the problem solving in defining what the target state was.

Q: Who did you have to convince to sponsor the effort? What were their motivations?
Sean: They made a difference between commitment and motivation. They had to work with the CIO and the IT division leaders. When they did these things, it was a lifestyle change for IT. It breaks down silos and you need communication and org change to support it. They took a baby step approach, not going enterprise wide. They focused on supporting IT first, before ever going out to the business.

Q: What role did ROI play in the business case?
J-P: ROI was the business case. They don’t sell a product, they sell man-hours. Our profit margin is on the order of supermarkets. They got the ROI specifically on the application optimization piece. It was the easiest one to get hard dollars out of quickly. EA is hard to define, we used the ROI calculator, cut the value in half twice due to company conservative culture, and kept doing this until they had a value that they were comfortable making a commitment to.
Jennifer: Work with the culture in your company. You may not have to cut down the numbers as much as we did. They used Forrester data to help support their case, and ultimately, it was easy to stand behind.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in building/communicating the business case?
Eivind: They felt it was important to get stewardship of the data close to the IT owners. They had to show the value to those people because they would have to commit resources to do the stewardship function. They partnered with one of those organizations and did a proof on concept with a subset of that organizations portfolio and demonstrated the reporting capabilities. That gave them a champion. It is an ongoing thing to keep that commitment, those groups have other priorities that don’t go away.

Q: How much was the business case for technology a part of your business case and what was the underlying argument for it?
Sean: Technology was a big part of it. If they wanted to have better capabilities and enhance our agility, they needed better tooling. If they hadn’t done the pilot work, however, they would not have been successful. Those pilots and POCs generated a lot of good will.

Q: What techniques did you employ in communication the business case?
J-P: They did not have to sell EA. They had a CIO come in that had previous experience with EA, who kicked off the effort to establish the practice, spending a year figuring out what it needed to be. They reached a point with EVP (Excel/Visio/Powerpoint). They generated a list of things they can do and the frequency they could have updated it with their availability with the EVP approach, and then talked about what they could provide with better tooling and did the build versus buy analysis.

Q: How involved were the beneficiaries/stakeholders in making the business case?
Eivind: He mentioned their POC and the use of the “champion” to help establish credibility. They also reached out the corporate business planning and strategy group, and got representation from them in the effort. This went a long ways to helping things out.

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