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Separate Marketing From Manufacturing Within IT

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Donagh Herlihy | CIO | Avon

The thing that I've done in a couple of different organizations is to separate out the manufacturing of IT from the marketing of IT. What I mean by that is crafting an organizational structure where, if you think about business and how businesses that develop products think— consumer products, because that's my industry—you have marketers who work closely with the end consumers to understand their needs, to understand both spoken and unspoken needs, and to craft ideas for products that could meet those needs. Then you have a separate organization that develops and builds and supplies those products. If I oversimplify it, we'll call that the manufacturing organization. What you don't do, is you don't put good manufacturing people in front of consumers to figure out what's the next product. You don't put good marketing people into the factory to run the production line, because they're different types of people. They need a different type of skill and a different type of focus. Typically, what I've done is make sure that there's the equivalent of that marketing unit in each of the IT organizations. We call it a business solutions group. Their job is to work extremely closely, embedded in the business units, reporting into IT, but on the management teams of business units or functional areas of the company. It's understanding the business strategies, the business initiatives, and the business pain points of that unit and then coming back and proactively articulating that in terms of, "Here are ways technology can help; here are concepts." Then it’s going through the life cycle of taking a concept and getting it to the point where it's a project with a business case. Once it has a business case, the project is signed off, and it's on our project portfolio, it's handed over to our version of the manufacturing unit, which is our COE. It's our COE who then does detail design, construction, and deployment, and then ongoing support of that technology. The key for me is that if you merge those two roles, what happens is that the day-to-day delivery of projects and the day-to-day servicing of issues will always be top of the agenda. The individual who's trying to wear both hats will never get to getting out and being proactive, thinking about the next generation of solutions and products. That's an organizational construct for helping people deal with the creation of new ideas.

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