When Alan Douville joined Stryker seven years ago, the IT organization was effective and delivering on its mission to make healthcare better. But because the business had grown rapidly, both organically and through acquisition, the IT organization needed an operating model overhaul in order to support the company’s continued global growth.
“We were supporting our divisions, but in an isolated way; we weren’t working together as one global team,” says Douville. “Stryker’s mission is not to make a single division like orthopedics or neurovascular better; it is to be a global provider that is making all of healthcare better.”
Douville’s first step in moving the IT organization to a global model was to ask the team to look at each area of their operations to figure out what was working and what was not. “We started with the basics: Do we have a way to globally manage security events and application enhancement requests? Do people understand their job description and what success looks like for the role they play? How can we run global platforms to support our more than 43,000 internal customers?” he says.
Streamline, clarify, and standardize
From that analysis, the IT team made a number of changes. They reduced multiple platforms and vendors across regions, going with one major partner and a single operational structure. They made sure that every IT employee had a clear job description that detailed not only their own role but how it contributed to other roles. And they standardized processes, controls, and change management across Stryker’s infrastructure, collapsing 83 data centers into four.
From those efforts, Stryker IT saw employee engagement scores rise, and major incidents fall by over 80 percent.
While Douville and his team’s goal was to provide global scale, they also had to stay close to the specific needs of each division. “My message to the team was, ‘We need to have global scale on the back end to be flexible and supportive on the front end,’” says Douville. “By having consolidated data centers and stable networks, we could build divisional and regional capabilities on top of that framework.”
Operating IT on a global scale
As a result of its new model, Stryker IT truly operates on a global scale. It supports 38,000 tickets a month, averages an uptime of 99.6 percent, supports 240,000 digital meetings a week, and manages billions of cybersecurity events.
With the global platform in place, the team was able to move 15,000 people into remote work in a matter of weeks while still delivering on Stryker’s strategic priorities. “Our global IT operations allowed Stryker employees to stay productive throughout the pandemic, while we supported new business models in divisions like ambulatory surgical centers and external digital services,” he says.
For example, Stryker IT has delivered new solutions to give its ambulatory surgical center sales team visibility across all other divisions to allow for cross-selling and support. They also created a global platform to allow Stryker’s digital solutions team to deliver new products and services.
In addition to delivering innovative solutions to its business units, Stryker IT has deployed self-service initiatives using robotic process automation (RPA) and are looking at no-code and low-code solutions, as well. “We have thousands of users who are empowering, enabling, and unchaining themselves from manual processes without IT in the middle,” says Douville, whose goal now is to drive self-service at scale. “Our plan is to simplify our cloud service model, standardize our toolkit around self-service, and ensure that IT has a centralized support model to enable the continued growth of self-service within our businesses,” he says.
Running a global IT organization that supports employees around the globe means that communication and transparency are key. Douville and his team provide monthly and quarterly reports to their business partners that allow them to understand how IT is performing. “They get to see number of users, tickets, devices, customer satisfaction scores, and the hot ticket areas for the month,” he says. “They also see project information, any issues, and how we are resolving them.”
With business units increasingly involved in making decisions about software, Douville’s communication model ensures alignment between the business units and the architecture group. “Today, the challenge is not the availability of software; the software is so readily available that our challenge is to make sure it not only drives the right outcomes, but that it is also compliant and secure,” he says. “We have architecture review boards that meet with our business partners regularly and provide that alignment, so that if a business unit has a need to manufacture or sell differently, they have been educated about how to choose the best, most compliant technology.”
Douville’s advice to other CIOs who are running large global platforms is to prioritize diversity of thought in your leadership team and to stay focused on the big picture. “If you have a well-rounded organization, you will always have a balanced approach to your IT strategy,” he says. “And you won’t fall in love with any one part of IT. You can’t get so enamored with infrastructure or software development that you don’t look up and see across your global businesses. Our mission in Stryker IT is to transform healthcare in support of our business. I cannot lose sight of that.”