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Portfolio, Program & Project Management

Portfolio, Program & Project Management
How do you see cloud programs evolving in the near future?

Top Answer: In terms of cloud programs, what I foresee will happen is that instead of migrating and transforming to move to the cloud, you may do a lift and shift first before you transform. That will become both much faster and simpler. Then you can create cloud-native applications, or greenfield applications directly in the cloud. Then you will continue to evolve those applications through new functions.

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If you are a current SAP customer, when do you plan to migrate to SAP S/4HANA?

Top Answer: No plan to migrate soon.

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Digitization and digitalization are…

Top Answer: I would define digitized at taking something that is paper and making it electronic, whereas digitalization is changing the process itself as well.

What advice would you give CTOs leading digital transformation journeys?

Top Answer: My advice to anyone embarking on a digital transformation journey is: Don't try to solve all the problems by yourself. That's been one of the biggest lessons I've learned; with no disrespect to my skills or those of my colleagues, there is outside expertise that can be brought in to help gain the business's confidence and fast-track the transformation. For example, experts in cloud-native technologies, security or automation can augment the effort. Of course, your ability to bring in those experts depends on the budget, among other factors, but the value realization is much quicker and more predictable. With software releases, the delivery team can build a business solution in two weeks; however, they can take 4 weeks to deliver the outcome or make it available to the customers. Inefficiencies like these always draw my attention as this can be easily addressed through technology and automation. Trying to do it internally can be a high risk due to a lack of skills. Having the proper skills and expert resources is an important aspect of any digital transformation journey. And beyond that, you need alignment to validate your roadmap and gain support so that it's not a surprise to anyone who will be impacted. Finally, from a customer point of view, whatever you do has to be better if not the same.

What should be the primary focus of modernization efforts: people or processes?

Top Answer: Rabinow’s Rule #23 of leadership states that If you have someone who is a dope at the top, you will have, or soon will have dopes all the way down. There are a lot of people who are thrust into different roles without understanding the potential ramifications, probably because they were brought in to provide a different perspective. But process improvement is also really important. A lot of people think technology will be that silver bullet to help with your modernization, and they forget about everything else. The reason why a lot of companies have come into this mess is probably because of the processes in place. But that could be because the wrong people were put in place. We never know.

How has the increase in digitization affected your role and collaboration with partners?

Top Answer: IT is dynamic, and it can help businesses with their growth. Not having a digital presence these days is a concern. Even if the business doesn't have a product to sell online, it can adopt digital tools and technologies internally to help deliver customer value much faster. IT functions perform at a mature level at some organizations and are embedded in the business as a contributing unit instead of a dependency. As a contributing unit, you are fully functional and delivering value. But when IT is a dependency, other stakeholders are waiting for it to deliver to move forward. The problem for many organizations is that they only think of technology as a tool. But using technology as just a tool that converts something into digital form is a process of digitization rather than digitalization. Digitalization is the broader transformation objective that an organization should embrace across the people, processes and technology. The technology in itself is a tool, but it needs to be combined with the people and the process. If people won't change, or if the process won't change, technology will not provide any advantage. It might solve some problems, but not to the extent the business expects after investing time and money into it. You need your stakeholders to understand that digital transformation is literal change, and that the true value of technology lies in understanding why we need to change, as well as the impact of that change. So when we talk about digital, we have to talk about transformation because that's where the benefit of technology is. People talk about needing digital transformation but when you go a bit deeper, there's a disconnect between what people get excited about and what the reality is when it comes to execution. Then they start saying, "Why are you trying to change this? This is perfect."

What are some of the biggest challenges in a transformation journey?

Top Answer: It's critical to have buy-in from not only management, but across the organization. You need buy-in for why this transformation is needed, so people feel comfortable about the change. The biggest hurdle to a transformation journey is establishing why it needs to happen. People will wonder, "Why are we changing; am I going to lose my job? Or will I be doing something different? Will it be more challenging?" It's important to manage those expectations or provide as much clarity as possible. These days, technology is very smart, affordable and quick thanks to all these companies who build cloud technologies. That makes technology simpler because it's just a matter of understanding which product is going to solve your problem and then getting an expert to implement it. That's what most organizations do, but they're missing change management, which is what you need to exploit the full potential in the value chain. There could be a system you have already built that is not being used, maybe due to lack of awareness. If people are hesitant to use it, it has not been fully embraced, and that's why buy-in at every level is required.

What are some areas for improvement in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives?

Top Answer: Inclusion is important but you also have to ask yourself: what are you doing to actually create the numbers? An emphasis on inclusion tends to mask the reality that we're just giving lip service to diversity concerns overall. Cybersecurity has been at about 10% to 11% female for the decades I've been in it. And for Black and Hispanic folks, both groups of which I'm a member, the collective total is 12% across the entire profession. Cybersecurity is an area in which we are facing shortages, and if we don't fix the diversity number, it's not going to get any better. Emphasizing inclusion is great if it truly isn't there, but I've often found it to be a way of obscuring the fact that the organization is not changing its hiring practices to improve diversity.

What advice would you give leaders trying to advance environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs?

Top Answer: Using Intuit as an example, we've declared several big bets from a corporate standpoint for the next five years. We’ve put it out there in our statements that these are the things we're going to do, and some of the acquisitions we've done focus on that big bet. My challenge to most companies is the same one I've stated at Intuit: declare DEI and sustainability as a big bet. That underscores the reality that getting there is going to take some time. It's not something that you'll do overnight. It has to be done strategically because the level of change required to be more inclusive is substantial. It will require small iterative steps, but if we get lost in those steps without some strategic goal or vision, we'll never get there. On a personal level, my dad marched with Joe Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge many years ago; the fact I'm having similar concerns today, which he marched to get rid of back then, concerns me. If more companies declare strategically that this is not something that we're going to accept from a DEI standpoint, and that we will be more sustainable and roadmap towards those things, then the small steps will matter. Otherwise we'll just get lots of motion, which means we're moving but not making progress; we need movement that takes us in the right direction.

Is it better to take a project-centric approach to enterprise architecture (EA) or a program-centric approach?

Top Answer: When we're thinking in that program mindset, we have to consider the bigger picture, including all of the ancillary pieces that connect to it. Even though you're working on this one application or function, when you think about how it fits into that broader context, there’s less of a need for enterprise architecture (EA) to be a discrete function. I'm not saying the need for a discrete function completely goes away but it does start to, and culture is a component.