An IT Transformation initiative to build a Software Defined Data Center or cloud does not end with the completion of technical delivery (i.e. deployment and migration to the new infrastructure and automation tools). Many organizations have invested huge sums on their IT transformation initiative only to achieve no sustainable benefits because of loss of enthusiasm and resistance to change.
To avoid letting your IT Transformation initiative rot and die, you need to ensure that the benefits you envisaged at the start, usually in your business case justification, are being realized at the end. This is done through a benefits realization management process.
What is Benefits Realization Management?
John Thorp, author of “The Information Paradox”, wrote that:
“It is a central tenet of the Benefits Realization Approach that benefits come only with change and, equally, change must be sustained by benefits.”
Benefits are only realized if the organization changes the way it operates, and the organization will only change if they see motivation to do so.
“Benefits do not just happen. They don’t just automatically appear when a new technology is delivered. A benefits stream flows and evolves over time as people learn to use it.”
You must set expectations that realization of the full benefits of transformation will not be immediate and will only grow over time as your organization adopts the new technologies and processes.
“Benefits realization is a continuous process of envisioning results, implementing, checking intermediate results and dynamically adjusting the path leading from investments to business results.”
It is important to establish regular tracking and reporting of the benefits realized and ensure that is communicated across the organization.
Changing the way people think, work and manage is critical to achieving IT Transformation goals.
3 Simple Steps for Benefits Realization Management
So how do you establish a Benefits Realization Process? These 3 steps should be part of your IT Transformation plan.
Step 1: Define Expected Benefits
At the beginning of the IT Transformation initiative, it is very likely that you would have developed a business case for embarking this journey. Also, you will probably have identified the tangible and intangible benefits which will be achieved at some time in future (e.g. 2-3 years).
If this has not been done, you need to do it now!
Step 2: Run the IT Transformation Initiative as a Program
As I mentioned above, the initiative doesn’t end when you completed your technical delivery. To justify the investment, you have to produce results and show business benefits accomplished during the time span defined in the business case.
To do this you need a program office that manages the transformation program for the entire time span.
Step 3: Monitor, Track and Report on Benefits Realization
As John Thorp pointed out, to realize the benefits, you need to change. The best way to achieve this is to adopt a balanced scorecard to track IT transformation benefits realization from financial, people, process and customer perspectives.
Tracking and reporting on SDDC/ Cloud adoption and usage is also important, as the faster workloads are migrated to the SDDC, the faster you achieve the cost saving goals. The longer it takes, the financial benefits become opportunity costs.
Consistently tracking and communicating benefits realization throughout your IT transformation to executives, senior management, the IT organization, and even the business at large is not only vital to the overall success of the program but can determine whether your IT organization is seen as trusted innovators and strategic partners, or just a necessary (and replaceable) cost center.
Choong Keng Leong is an operations architect with VMware Professional Services and is based in Singapore. You can connect with him on LinkedIn