The business systems environment of this organisation had grown and evolved significantly over many years. At the same time, there had been a strong focus on efficiencies and a continuous review of operations to reduce operating costs and maintain existing service levels. There were many disparate systems storing information about donors and service users and no way of understanding in aggregate the information already held and what value it could bring.
Reasons for change
There were just too many data stores and information systems in place. This was a symptom of a siloed organisational structure, lack of IT strategy and little IT procurement governance. Day-to-day for the business there was no way of getting a single view of customers, and information processing was inefficient by aggregating data from multiple sources. Decision-making was done by guessing ("we think") rather than being data-driven ("we know"). There was a risk of non-compliance with privacy consent and donors were getting frustrated with inaccurate information being sent to them.
What was needed
Firstly, IT needed to understand the business strategy and operational imperatives. Next, it was important to know which business systems were in use and how each was used to support donor management or service user capability. Lastly, what were the gaps, problems or issues the business was struggling with? It was critical to identify what work-arounds and rudimentary fixes were in place for teams to get their work done. This was in the context of data, processes, culture and organisational silos.
How we helped
The Purpose Driven team undertook a complete review of all systems and their alignment to organisational capabilities and business strategy. Any “quick wins” in service efficiency, service quality and reporting were identified. We developed an easy-to-understand, graphical representation of the current applications that business users could readily interpret and contextualise. This included systems in use and their high level information flows between systems, reporting and analytics, and the resources supporting each system.
Management could now get a good grasp of the magnitude of the disparate data problem and the previously obscured operational issues. Business areas could easily see duplication of data and processes and were open to change. Moreover, there was now a good starting point to explore opportunities for improvement in a strategic way. There was a strategic shift to harnessing all of the data already on hand, but it had to be in one place. The IT strategy could now be better aligned with business strategy and on a solid foundation to move forward to being "data-driven".
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