The Tail Wagging The Dog

Welcome to our first blog in a series that will talk about the challenges faced by the advances of technology and how it supports business.

I have recently been discussing the question of whether technology is the driver for new business solutions or if the business needs to demand new technical solutions to fix it’s problems.  Participants in the discussion were made up of both business people and technologists and it was interesting to see the inability of both camps to see the others perspective.

The technologists believe their ideas can help a business to succeed with little or no understanding of the business and what it takes to succeed, whilst the business people know what they need to succeed with little understanding of the technical challenges that must be overcome to implement these solutions.  Without taking the time to understand the other’s perspective, the result can be a technical implementation that does not generate any value for the business or a huge time and cost overrun implementing a technical solution that is not the best fit to solve the business challenges in the long run.

A good example of this is the BBC implementation of its Digital Media Initiative in 2008 where the technical challenges were not understood and the business requirements not clearly stated from the onset.  The result of this was an additional £100M cost to the UK license payer for a solution that did not deliver what the BBC needed and which was ultimately completely abandoned in 2013.

Prevention of this type of overrun is easy; get the business in a room with the technicians, make sure the business requirements are fully articulated and the technical solution then designed to meet these requirements.

So why does this not happen?

One reason can be a lack of maturity in an organisation, where the IT department are not seen as partners but simply the people who keep the lights running, or there is a mentality within the IT organisation of upgrading the existing technology ‘because we know what the business needs,’ without looking at value (if any) this will generate.

An effective change management program can help to raise awareness of the issues facing the various teams and help them understand the need for effective communication which is necessary to align both teams and help them to work together in implementing transformation that drives value.

In my next blog I will look at how to make money from a good idea through a structured innovation programme.

Enable Consulting

Self Funding Application Modernisation Programme

How to design a self funding application modernisation programme


One of the main challenges with getting any modernisation programme off the drawing board, is securing the funding for the programme.  With competing priorities leaving the programme competing for funding with other programmes. These competing programmes often delivering much needed new functionality the business urgently required.  The result was that modernisation was often pushed lower down the priority list.

However one of the side effects of this behaviour is that the business improvement programmes are more complex. As a result they become more costly to implement because of the issues integrating with a legacy application and ageing infrastructure.


The Challenge

Competing priorities and a finite in year budget meant the stakeholders were faced with a challenge to get the proposed modernisation programme off the ground.


The Solution

Enable Consulting were able to help design a programme that became self-funding.  By triaging the entire application estate we were able to develop business cases for some of the easier modernisation targets that delivered in year return on investment.  This return was then reinvested into the programme to deliver some of the more complex modernisation activities.

The triage effort looked at a number of parameters to help classify the applications. This helped to initially focus on applications that potentially could release the in year return.

The 3 categories were:

Simple —Software as a Service and UNIX to LINUX migration

Medium—Application Replacement or Business Process Changes

Hard— Complex systems (Mainframe/Multiple Interfaces/Missing Source Code)


The Result

As a result we were able to instigate a self-funding programme that resulted in reducing the IT run rate for the client.  It also reduced the complexity of the environment reducing the cost of implementing future business improvement activities.

The key learning from this successful programme was that it is critical to understand the measurable value you will deliver.  By understanding this value and tracking your programme against delivering this value it was possible to feed this ROI back into future activities.