Restructuring IT for growth

When Andrew Campbell joined global equipment manufacturer Terex as CIO in 2016, the company had a twenty-year history of acquisitions. As a result, they had a bevy of small IT teams who dabbled in a number of different functional roles.

Officially, the IT organization was one global team, but informally, business unit leaders had identified IT staff who were “jacks of all trades” dedicated to their business alone. IT staff were more generalists than specialists and did not align to a carefully codified set of roles and responsibilities.

“Our IT organization was 250 people, but we had 183 different titles,” says Campbell. “We had telephony engineers, senior business analysts, IS specialists, and IT supervisors who didn’t actually supervise anyone. Often, the title didn’t represent the work the person was actually doing.”

Campbell knew that to ensure that the company had the right talent and delivery model to support its growth, he would need to redefine and focus almost every role in his organization.

Three years later, Terex IT has 30 titles, with clear role definition and a culture of accountability, and the organization has enjoyed a spike in customer satisfaction scores. How did Campbell and his leadership team create the change?

Step 1: Communicate the vision

When Campbell began to dig into his staff’s titles and roles to create a more focused organization, some people got nervous. “They were thinking, ‘You want to know what I do so you can change me out,” recalls Campbell. “But my response was, ‘Be nervous if you are questioning your value, but if you know your value, look forward to being a part of a stronger team that can offer better, more flexible services. If you do a bunch of things reasonably well, you will have the opportunity to hone your craft and do narrower scope of work extremely well.’”

Step 2: Survey your team

Campbell selected a dozen people from all levels of the IT organization who would work with his HR partner to provide a benchmark for standard IT industry roles. He then asked the team to design a survey, which they did. It asked four questions: 

  • How do you currently spend your time?
  • What would be your dream job?
  • What would you want to do that is just shy of your dream job?
  • What would you absolutely not want to do?

Step 3: Analyze the results

The survey team had identified several broad categories of activity, like infrastructure, ERP, project management, and architecture. “We found that most people dipped a little into each of those buckets,” says Campbell. “A little project work, a little design, a little ERP, and most were spending some of their time doing work that they did not want to be doing.”

Step 4. Pick outsourcing partners

One clear theme that came out of the survey was that most people did not want to do daily support.  “So, we said, ‘If people don’t want to do that work, let’s find the few who do and have them manage an outsourcing relationship,” says Campbell. Terex had already outsourced its helpdesk, but it added ERP support, along with a considerable amount of compute and network management. 

Step 5: Refocus the staff

Campbell did not do a massive reassignment of work in one move; he and his leadership team spent the next 18 months adjusting the organization as opportunities allowed. “There was some degree of self-selection out,” says Campbell. “Some people thought, ‘I like doing 10 different things; I don’t know if I want to be a project manager all day long.’ Their departure and the outsourcing gave us the room to shift the work and move people into different roles.”

For example, several people who had been working on ERP wanted to work on analytics. Others, who dabbled in project management, wanted to become professional project managers. People who had generic “IT analyst” titles and understood business processes became true business analysts, and senior business analysts had the opportunity move into the brand-new role of “business engagement leader.”

“We moved the chess pieces around when it made sense,” says Campbell, “but we weren’t pressured by the anxiety of managing a massive change.”

Step 6: Communicate to the business

Once Campbell had filled his new business engagement leadership roles, he asked those business engagement leaders to communicate the role changes to the rest of the business. “The business engagement people were really effective because they understood how messages flowed through their businesses,” he says. “We also took advantage of regular company communication channels including the intranet and the CEO’s newsletter. We put ourselves into the news cycle of the company.”

Step 7:  Instill career development in your culture

When Campbell selected his IT leadership team, he looked for people who had a strong interest in developing people. Now that he has a more focused staff, he has asked his leadership team to continue to evolve the people development culture. “My leadership team conducts annual mid-year reviews and makes sure their managers are having career development discussions with their staffs at least twice a year,” he says.

20:20 hindsight

Looking back, Campbell offers a lesson learned: “We could have been faster in getting the layer below my leadership team to make organizational changes,” he says. “It is always the middle of the organization that is the hardest to change. I should have addressed that sooner.”

What he would not have changed is his communication strategy. “We let the IT organization know in advance why we were doing the survey and creating the change,” he says. “We presented it as a go-forward view and not an indictment of the past.”

How does Campbell know his work focusing the team is having the right impact? “Our business partners used to think of us as PC, email, and network support,” says Campbell. “We were the plumbers. Today we are co-creating digital strategies with our business partners at all levels of the organization. We are asked to participate in conversations we wouldn’t have been involved with two years ago. And to top it off, in the most recent bi-annual employee engagement survey, the IT team had the highest engagement scores of any function in the company!”

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