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Guest Blog: Need, Want, Desire – Creating demand for desktop migration

Andrew Finlay works as a Director at Corporate Risk Analytics, and is a highly experienced program manager. Below he kindly shares some of his expertise and experiences of desktop transformation projects.

What you can do to drive demand for your enterprise Windows 7 migration

Successful business pitching is key, not just for approvals or successful benefits realisation, but for job security for those involved in desktop migration projects.

Most CIO, Infrastructure heads and CTO staff are aware that the appetite for changing the incumbent IS solutions’ is naturally low in the business side of an organisation unless they have been sold the competitive strategy for the change. This premise applies consistently in delivering desktop migration projects, and the most successful players will be those who can deliver not only the change on budgets, performance and their chosen constraints, but have the business actively declaring success and demand far outside of your area of control.

If we take a step back from the rationale that IT simply wants or needs to do it, and have authority already for a JDI (Just Do It!), and overlay Harvard’s Michael Porter’s five forces competitive strategy model, the pitch for the reason for change morphs from IS redundancy as the number one issue, and flushes out some alternative concerns we can address.


Creating business demand for desktop migration


Using above, we arise with new material to address that can in turn generate success and save a desktop migration on the rocks if understood.

(a) Suppliers – we want to minimise their bargaining power in each software licensing deal and the longer the corporate OS is unchanged and nearing end of life, the more costs will rise as commercial supplier teams will exploit this weakness. The temptation to pitch the value of change by the migration in isolation is huge as few are keen to sort through supply management costs to understand the potential net/negative benefit. In other words, spend some time before you even begin working through not just this topic, but KRI/KPI/MI for virtually every project service and success factor you and your organisation can think of. It will make a big difference down the line when you want to validate success.

(b) Industry Competitors – for our purposes here, think of this as the internal marketplace for services inside your organisation. We have business area/ department/ regional/ firmwide/ 50:50 deals with other firms and so on - and decision makers all wanting various things. The rivalry between these areas to be more profitable means few large companies have a single IT organisation often tending towards a fragmented model such as hub and spoke. Not controlling this for a desktop migration can lead to one leading area creating the de facto standards for the company, be that good or bad.

  1. We need to control this challenge and the historical IT team delivery strategy of pitch to a small area as a test bed because it is the safe bet if it fails should be not used. Yes, do so for actual delivery itself but not for approval for the change which must be at a macro level. As an example I remember when running the Merrill Lynch Debt Markets Desktop Simplification program (NT4 and SMS1.0 rollout to trade floor) it was based on damage limitation, hence small area pitched to and changed, one by one. While it did enable change, the overhead in administration rose dramatically as did the risk of ROI not being met as it relied on many sales pitches
  2. Further to this, as time moves on, desktop standards by user type will change in parts of the organisation (which is fine), but a regular overarching approach to what is sitting on X box and why, configured to use Z is necessary to bring regular convergence benefits of scale. Think of a situation where one development model relies of a version of .Net that only works on Win7 by intent – having a parallel running OS model for too long will disable faster ROI in the application development departments.

(c) Substitutes – Innovation waits for no one, especially inside CTO departments! Be that CTO staff testing corporate application services using OSX ultrabooks, linux laptops or the virtual desktop. The point will be a driving force wanting change as well, and controlling this during your business pitch and during migration is necessary. Yes, have roadmaps overlaying business usage options, but work is needed to ensure the IT teams are not shooting at each other.

(d) Buyers – In high IT usage firms, the operational costs split mainly into the intellectual capital, and technology capital, with low manufacturing values – think financial services as an example. We have seen in numerous examples the M&A deals in these market areas has been not merely delayed, but driven by the potential integration costs of the competing firms’ technology estate. CTO/CIO staff are not the decision makers here, but can minimise their team’s risk of redundancy in the fallout of mergers, by following the path of regularly updating IS. Rationale for trending the Gartner magic quadrant or similar for each IS area would be sensible.

(e) Potential Entrants – Who is running this? We have all heard this statement by stakeholders and know it’s to flag both unhappiness at current governance/delivery team and concern the wrong benefits are being targeted. We need to not just create the delivery model explaining how we will deliver strong governance and control, but make the perception of inevitability of success top on the stakeholder attributes to enable. Marketing is forgotten by many but a well-executed communications model such as (focussed business class presentations, smart timing of pitches and a project delivery office who make executives feel ,’this is not one project to fight over,’) will mean success as much as the right A listed staff on the project.