So You Want to Centralize?

“7 Steps to Centralize Your Enterprise”

So you want to centralize your enterprise? Smart choice – but it’s important to take some factors into consideration if you want to have success. Developers need to ensure representation from each geographic location; understand current development processes and tools; and comprehend the biggest challenges. Furthermore, you need to be aware of, and sensitive to, your project teams’ preferences for existing tools and aversion to change.

Before we get started into our list of the “7 Steps to Start Centralization,” let’s tackle the question you are probably asking – “What is centralization, anyway?”

Centralization is really an ever-evolving process that helps your organization react quickly, make smarter organization decisions, and – yes – be more agile. Centralization means breaking down organizational silos, encourages collaboration, and allows stakeholders the ability to make effective and efficient decisions, from top to the bottom.

So let’s dive in:

Step 1: Create a Task Force

Because centralization is not necessarily easy, it’s helpful to create a task force to stay focused and organized. This task force should be responsible for

  • knowing the corporate culture, asking questions like, “Are there specific teams or geographical locations that might be resistant to change?”
  • determining if there are tools and/or data that cannot be easily centralized.
  • doing most of the heavy lifting for the remaining six steps.

Choose members who are organized, know your organization inside and out, are impartial, and adept at thinking outside the box.

Step 2: Establish a High-Level Plan

Before you get down to the nitty-gritty details of centralization, take a 10,000 foot view of the project and develop a high-level plan. Decide whether to develop or purchase the platform you want to use. This might seem obvious, but it’s very easy to get caught up in the details without making the decision. Identify the tools that your organization absolutely needs and make sure they are going to be integrated into your central platform.  If you’re building your own platform, this will help you build those functionalities into it. On the other hand, if you are buying the platform you are going to use, you can make sure the platform has the tools you absolutely need. There is nothing worse than researching and buying a platform and then discovering it is missing one of the tools you need to be successful. By mapping out your high-level plan, you can avoid running into that sort of issue.

Step 3: Choose Tools for Centralization

Now that you have your high-level plan and an idea of the essential functions of the tools you will be using, you can actually go about the business of choosing the specific tools you need to accomplish centralization. Use an existing team, or even a new one, that is a fair representation of the teams throughout your organization as a case study to choose what will work best for everyone involved.

Step 4: Identify Potential Risks

The best way to avoid potential stumbling blocks is to see them coming. Sit down and try your best to identify potential pitfalls. By having a solid understanding of where difficulties might be hiding, you will be that much better at tackling them if they do, in fact, become issues.

Besides identifying the risks, also come up with a best plan of action for mitigating them and also establish a timeline for conversion. After an initial pilot project, you can go back and refine your timelines once you have a better understanding of how long they will really take – allowing you to better measure successes. One area to take note of is an individual’s aversion to change. When people have been doing the same thing for a long time, they might not take kindly to change.  Be understanding and sensitive to this issue, while also building a plan to bring everyone on board with comfort and ease.

Step 5: Conduct Pilot

You are now ready for a test run! Start new projects using your new tools and systems and see how things go. Make sure to play close attention to bottlenecks and issues in your progress – this is your best chance to work out any potential issues with your centralization process. Measure successes as well as failures so you know what is going right and where you can still improve.

Step 6: Devise the Rollout Plan

You’ve got the tools, your metrics for success, and everyone in your organization on board – how do you actually put the plan into place? This is the step for you to decide the best way to approach rolling out your new plan. Provide a central team to help with onboarding – if people in your organization have questions, it can make the transition much easier if they know who to turn to.  This team can also help troubleshoot your roll-out process. By measuring success regularly, they can identify any issues as they pop up, and fix them before they become real headaches!

Step 7: Implementation

With a plan in your back pocket, the tools you need at your disposal, a solid idea of potential roadblocks (and a strategy of how to deal with them), the buy-in of your organization and a strong idea of what success looks like, you are ready to move forward with the implementation of your plan. Again, having a central team to help your organization deal with the transition is key and be sure to measure your success on a consistent basis, not only to identify problems as they arise, but to also fine-tune your strategy to have your organization running at peak efficiency in no time.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that while one of the goals of centralization is to break down organization silos within your company that cause issues in your development process, it is important for the centralization process to take into consideration the various needs of different groups within your company. Failure to do so can isolate groups and actually reinforce the silos that already exist.

But by taking into account all the groups in your organization and their processes and needs, you can have an organization that moves as one, making it more efficient and effective.

As you develop your plan for centralization, the biggest thing we can stress is to focus on staying organized and doing your homework in advance. With a clear plan in place and an understanding of potential issues you might encounter, your path to having a centralized organization will be smooth sailing.

Flint Brenton

Flint has extensive experience leading innovative software companies and has an exceptional track record of accelerating growth through product innovation and sales execution. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of AccelOps, a provider of a leading IT operations analytics platform for cloud and virtualized infrastructures. Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of Tidal Software, a leading application automation software solution provider, which later was acquired by Cisco. After the Cisco acquisition, Mr. Brenton served in various follow-on capacities, including Vice President of Advanced Services and as Senior Vice President of Engineering for Cisco’s cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) software offerings. At both AccelOps and Tidal Software, Mr. Brenton more than tripled sales under his tenure while focusing both companies on disruptive product introductions.

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Posted in centralization, Centralize, Enterprise Git, Git, SCM, Subversion, TeamForge

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