3 key questions to ask when transforming your IT organization

I recently interviewed Luis Canepari, the Vice President of IT at Goldcorp, about IT transformation and how to approach strategy development.  With over $5 billion in annual revenue,  Goldcorp is one of the world’s fastest growing senior gold producers and employs over 16,000 people which is why I was intrigued when Canepari was open to sharing his vision for transforming Goldcorp’s IT organization.  Canepari is a leader that exudes confidence and has a keen understanding of the importance of linking business and the role of technology.  Yet, I was surprised at the outset of our conversation as Canepari’s vision for transforming Goldcorp’s IT organization was not based on the latest technology or expanding his team – it was based on IT simplification to outmaneuver competitors.

You don’t need a complex IT strategy to compete in the modern world and, actually, complex may work against you.  The discussion reminded me of a quote from Steve Jobs:  “Simple can be harder than complex:  You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Canepari’s insight is useful whether you’re a small business or large enterprise looking to transform your IT organization. Canepari used the following three key questions to act as guiding principles when crafting Goldcorp’s IT strategy:

1.  What do we aspire to as an IT organization? This is not a trivial question, it is one that truly takes deep thought and reflection. Crafting what you want to be known for requires looking closely at both where you are today as well as what your organization is capable of achieving within a defined period of time. Once you decide what you want to be known for, develop a vision statement that is concise and understood across the organization. Goldcorp’s IT mission and core principle is “to become a business partner, creating an environment that encourages the use of technology to improve our business performance,” says Canepari.

2.  How will this positively impact the organization?  “Simplifying IT leads to improve performance at the operational level while at the same time reducing costs and risk,” says Canepari.  The impacts to the business may be financial, as seen through improved cost management, or improved employee safety.  Discuss your desired business outcomes and, over time, measure the impact on your organization’s strategic priorities.  Always look broadly at the implications on the business strategic priorities and how they will affect the IT department’s ability to execute efficiently and effectively.

3.  How are we going to bridge the gap?  Bridging the gap is where the execution work is done to achieve the desired business outcome.  This is where organization and governance models are developed, vendor strategies reexamined, performance management frameworks are put into place, along with prioritization of key programs and initiatives.  Team dynamics are important as well explained Canepari, “having a mix of long-serving Goldcorp leaders and new faces allows for new ideas with minimal disruption.”  Leadership and experience are both critical to success and Canepari has a solid team of six directors with 120 years combined relevant experience and 33 combined years with Goldcorp.

Make no mistake, the path to being a true business partner is not an easy road.  It starts with achieving operational efficiency at the lowest cost in areas like architecture simplification, sourcing optimization and IT centralization.  Reaching the business partner status means we will have “the ability to introduce new ways of doing business through IT” says Canepari.  At the end of the day, it is not the technology that makes you better, it is what you do with the technology that makes you better.

Brian Clendenin
Brian Clendenin
Innovating the Canadian Enterprise at Box. Prior to Box, I served at the research firm Gartner and write on the topics of leadership, IT strategy, and the future of work. Invest my time speaking with engaging thought leaders.

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