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The Evolving Development Approach for the Modern IT Department

By Ken Watson, Vice President Information Technology, Larson Financial

Ken Watson, Vice President Information Technology, Larson Financial

Do you have a limited budget, limited time, and limited skilled resources for a digital transformation? Are you bombarded by your business stakeholders to boost revenue, curb expenses, and ”delight” either your internal or external clients?

"Limiting customizations helps reduce development expenses, implementation costs, and maintenance burden"

In the 20+ years, I’ve been in IT leadership roles; these questions never change. What has changed in that time is my execution approach, especially at our asset wealth management firm, a medium-sized business focused on high-net-worth professionals.

Through recent major development projects, such as moving toward a cloud-first environment, we realized numerous tactical items must be executed:

Understand the Business Needs. Before the Cloud-First initiative got underway, we analyzed our current situation and where we would like to go. We looked at items like payback period, increased Disaster Recovery, and increased stability.

Evaluate Your Partners. We spoke with other IT leaders of comparable businesses that went through a similar transformation. We asked about their process, partners they used, and any lessons learned, with the goal to learn from others and avoid mistakes. In addition, we worked with our account executives to determine any additional resources they provide, such as training materials.

Minimize Customizations. We created a proof of concept to determine how close the out-of-the-box solution meets our business needs. Limiting customizations helps reduce development expenses, implementation costs, and maintenance burden.

Involve the Business Stakeholders. In establishing our project team, we identified business stakeholders and power users, the ones who know their processes stop to bottom. They can best advise on what data to keep, what to get rid of, and what can be done to make improvements.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat. We concentrated on low-hanging fruit for quick wins in Phase 1. The most important areas were the things that ensured quick and easy business user adoption. We then utilized Agile methodology to roll out a repeatable development and release cycle, which included regular end-user training.

Technology is changing rapidly. The need to keep up with business and client needs is critical. Having a well-developed process will allow you to move quickly, lessen expenses, and reduce support costs in the future.

If you want to engage your clients, streamline your operations, grow your firm revenue, and answer the age-old questions, I strongly suggest you move faster to meeting business demand—your competition certainly is.

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