Starting your forays into more mature architectural stages within the IT department itself lets you test approaches to make sure they work and reduces the chances that a botched effort in a business unit could kill further evolution, says Jim McGrane, former CIO of MeadWestvaco. Such inside-IT efforts also give CIOs the proof of concept you need to gain business buy-in. Plus, starting within IT disarms the common complaint that “CIOs like to change everyone else’s processes but their own,” he says.
Merck is also taking this tack, says Joe Solfaro, executive director of information management. “We’re going to work our way from the inside out,” he says. At Merck, IT is using an integration platform to unify the messaging architecture at the company, which at first seemed to be a very IT-focused efficiency gain. But the effort is forcing IT to change its own internal operations and provides a natural interface with the business. “Layering information into a single bus gives us access to information that we know the business will want, such as process management, and it gives us more visibility into business processes,” Solfaro says.
Approaches such as the Capability Maturity Model for Integration (CMMI) and IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) are good process methods to help IT transition to Stage 3, note both McGrane and Solfaro. (For ITIL best practices, see “ITIL Power.”) “They help focus the organization on a process basis, and they force you to determine the value of services and to run like a business,” McGrane says.