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Improving cooperation between business departments and the IT department in Maspex Group’s transformation projects through automation and data analysis

Introduction:

This case study will present the results of a project aimed at defining standards for conducting transformation projects and designing IT ecosystems in the Maspex Group. Maspex Group is a company operating in the food industry, specializing in the production and distribution of a wide range of drinks and food. Known for its innovation and dynamic development, the company offers high-quality products under many well-known brands (including Tymbark, Kubuś, Łowicz, Żubrówka, or Lubella)

This project was developed to standardize cooperation between the IT department and business units through data analysis and automation and to improve project reporting and implementation processes. Solutions aimed at early detection of unprofitable and risky projects were also presented, as well as creating a single source of knowledge in the form of WIKI.

Challenges:

Standardization of the IT-Business cooperation process:

To effectively meet market challenges, the Maspex Group has identified the need to maintain coherence and harmony between IT and business departments as one of the key success factors. The company decided to revise cooperation standards, identify and eliminate obstacles to project implementation, and introduce a uniform system for collecting expectations from internal customers. Thanks to this, it intends to improve the efficiency of the communication interface between IT and business departments.

Diverse requirements from business units:

The challenge was the need for business units to define the specifications of project requirements precisely and clearly. A precise definition of requirements is crucial to enable the project team to work effectively, clearly define the scope of work, minimize errors in the final product, and effectively manage the costs and time of project implementation. There was a need to automate this process and quantify the assessment of innovative concepts.

Insufficient standardization of progress indicators in development projects:

During the work, there was a need to define a catalog of progress indicators in development projects to facilitate monitoring and assessment of progress. Having the right indicators is important to be able to assess whether a project is progressing successfully or encountering challenges when it should be supported with additional resources, and when it should be stopped and disbanded.

Incomplete list of IT ecosystems:

IT ecosystems include all integrated applications, systems, software, and services used in an organization. The challenge is to create a complete and up-to-date list of all IT ecosystems in use. An incomplete list could hamper development in the area of ​​data management system integration and potentially impede further development of IT infrastructure. It was necessary to build mechanisms into the existing software management processes to ensure continuous software development, ensuring access to the most modern and developed platforms. The goal was also to reduce the costs of maintaining IT ecosystems and their clear categorization and assignment of responsibility for the development of ecosystems.

Centralization of knowledge, data, and tools

In organizations, especially those with a large scope and complex structure, there is a need for a centralized source of knowledge, such as a well-managed WIKI platform. Instead, knowledge is scattered across various documents, files, and on various servers. Catalogs of indicators, procedures for submitting concepts to the IT department, process automation – all this information was needed in the form of micro-lessons available to Maspex Group employees.

 Change implementation strategy

  1. Area: Standardization of the IT-Business cooperation process:
    1. First, an analysis of the current cooperation processes between the IT department and business units was carried out.
    2. Historical and planned data was used to better understand where there are challenges in the process, where unplanned process stops occur, and where the process falls short.
    3. Based on the data analysis, a new cooperation model was developed, including appropriate, automated communication stages, involvement of key stakeholders, feedback cycles, and the requirements approval process.
    4. A set of recommendations was prepared, which, after presentation to the Steering Committee consisting of representatives of the management board, IT, the Disruption team, and business lines, were translated into an action plan with a division of responsibilities.
  2. Area: Employee support in the process of submitting and implementing ideas for a development project:
    1. The organization of detailed workshops and meetings was based on the analysis of data from previous applications and development projects.
    2. Historical data was used to identify repetitive, manual activities from business line managers and employees of the Maspex Group in the process of adopting innovative changes.
    3. Historical data and previously planned projects helped to precisely determine the changes that should be introduced to make the process of reporting and assessing projects for the IT department automatic and quantifiable.
  3. Area: Defining progress indicators in development projects:
    1. An analysis of previous projects in several business lines of the Maspex Group was used to define key performance indicators (KPIs).
    2. The analysis of historical data allowed us to determine which projects and in what specific context were most susceptible to delays or had the potential for automation.
    3. A review of the indicators used allowed us to define those that should be included in the catalog of indicators, as well as to design a support program for Maspex Group employees in the use of indicators in operational and transformation projects.
  4. Area: Development of a complete list of IT ecosystems
    1. During the audit of IT infrastructure and system resources, data analysis helped identify existing IT ecosystems and their categorization.
    2. Historical and current data were used to create a complete list of ecosystems. In-depth interviews with employees of business lines and technology departments helped to supplement the list of ecosystems and software used.
    3. Mapping all ecosystems using the Miro and Mural platforms allowed for illustrating the current state, indicating gaps and the need to build automatic processes for maintaining licenses and updates.
    4. The identified map allowed for discussions on the need to list software that should be replaced by more modern software in the future.
  5. Area: Creation of a single source of knowledge
    1. When creating a centralized WIKI platform, data analysis was used to identify existing solutions and their development opportunities.
    2. Concepts of data and information integration have been prepared, which should be placed in WIKI, so that Maspex Group employees can experience the planned facilities in the area of ​​project data analysis, preparation and reporting of transformation changes, process quantification, and selection of project indicators.

Results obtained:

Area: Standardization of the IT-Business cooperation process:

  • Improved cooperation and understanding between the IT department and business units, which contributed to faster implementation of new IT solutions.
  • Standardization and automation of communication between teams allowed for better matching of business expectations to the specific processes in the IT department.
  • Increasing the involvement of key stakeholders in the synchronization of business lines and the IT department which helped define expectations for project support.
  • Reducing the number of needs reports described insufficiently or fragmentarily, with unclear monitoring indicators.

Area: Employee support in the process of submitting and implementing ideas for a development project:

  • Full automation of the process of reporting operational and transformation projects, including automatic placement of quantified reports on the magic quadrant axes
  • Transparency in the processes of processing transformational changes through an automated process of qualifying projects and placing them in the catalog of implemented and budgeted projects
  • A set of indicators assigned to reported changes allowed projects to focus on achieving the strategic goals of the Maspex Group. At the same time, the implementation of projects that do not contribute to the improvement of indicators important for the Group were eliminated.

Area: Defining progress indicators in development projects:

  • Improving supervision over project progress and identifying problems at an early stage which allows projects to be closed at early stages or continued in a changed scope.
  • Better resource and budget management, which contributed to reducing the costs of operating and transformation projects.
  • The catalog of indicators, along with definitions and applications, allowed us to focus activities on projects that, by their nature, are strategically important for the Maspex Group.
  • Long-term assessment of the project team’s performance, which allowed for the identification of strengths and areas for improvement in implemented projects. The catalog of indicators significantly supported this process.
  • Eliminating the implementation of projects that do not meet the required conditions, including those that do not implement the indicators included in the catalog of indicators.

Area: Development of a complete list of IT ecosystems:

  • Defined IT ecosystems with assigned responsibilities for their maintenance, development, and training.
  • The division of software into strategic and non-strategic allowed for prioritization in the areas of ​​budgeting, development, and training. Non-strategic software, separated as separate ecosystems, was covered by different maintenance and development rules.
  • Eliminating duplicate software and distributed licenses resulted in lower software maintenance costs.
  • A list of modern software has been prepared that will replace platforms that do not meet the requirements in the area of ​​automation and data analysis.

Area: Creating a single source of knowledge – WIKI:

  • Centralization of information in the area of ​​processes, principles, indicators, and requirements for the implementation of operational and transformation projects.
  • Publication of micro-lessons enabling self-learning of newly designed processes, indicators, and rules in the area of ​​IT ecosystems and project monitoring.
  • Faster absorption of newly created rules in the Maspex Group

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