Developing the Accountancy Profession

IFAC & cloudThing’s PAO Digital Assessment Tool Part 11: The Role of Change Management in Digital Transformations

cloudThing | June 22, 2021

IFAC teamed up with cloudThing to offer our members a free Digital Readiness Assessment Tool that would assess an organization’s digital readiness ahead of a digital transformation project. The Digital Readiness Assessment Tool has been designed to measure how digitally ‘mature’ an organization is, or where they already are on their individual digital transformation journey.

The Digital Readiness Assessment Tool is broken down into 11 different pillars. We have blogs covering all sections:

  1. Culture & Capability;
  2. Vision & Strategy;
  3. Business Systems & Automation;
  4. Talent Management;
  5. Product & Service Developing;
  6. Sales & Marketing;
  7. Digital Engagement;
  8. Learning & Qualification;
  9. Good Governance; and
  10. Predictive Insights & Data

We recommend reading the previous articles before proceeding to Part 11, Change Management.

The final pillar of IFAC and cloudThing digital assessment tool discusses IT Management and Change Delivery. Instead of looking at what is possible or why it is needed, the section takes a deep dive into best practices for how a PAO can go about their digital transformation process.

Implementing a Structured Approach to Both IT Delivery & Change Management

IT delivery is the provision of IT services to an organization and its users, which includes applications, data storage, and other business resources. IT service delivery also includes design, development, deployment, operations, security, and retirement.

Change management is how an organization describes and implements change within both its internal and external processes. Developing a structured approach to change is critical to help ensure a beneficial transition to ‘the new way’ while limiting disruption to the ‘as-is’. 

As part of a digital transformation, a PAO will need to focus on both to ensure that systems and people elements of delivering IT system change are covered comprehensively and that projects and programs are set up to succeed from the very beginning. This needs to be done with optimized processes, design authorities with clear remits and accountabilities, and robustly controlled and documented approaches to quality assurance and release management. These factors will allow an organization to deliver at pace to achieve the outcomes required.

So how does a PAO go about doing that?

Delivering Long Term PAO Goals with Program Governance

A ‘program’ in this context is a set of activities linked by a particular long-term aim. In our case, IT programs are multiple projects that, when delivered together, will achieve an organization’s business goals, often linked to, or aligned with improved performance. 

Governance adds control and consistency to operations, so in the context of a digital transformation this means how IT projects and programs are administered. To be effective, a structured framework must be in place to regulate project or program deliverables, outcomes, and benefits. 

Getting this right from the beginning of a transformation will:

  • Increase the likelihood that new digital services are delivered on time, on budget, and are of high quality.
  • Align stakeholder expectations by standardizing the functions and responsibilities for key roles within a project or program.
  • Drive prompt decision-making by getting the right data to the right person at the right times.
  • Allow all project team members to know what they are accountable and responsible for.
  • Help fast-moving projects maintain a high momentum in a controlled environment. 

Enterprise Grade Architecture with Business Design Authority Oversight for PAOs

Enterprise Architecture is how organizations standardize and organize their IT infrastructures to align with their business goals. A design authority is a group that supplies assurance to the organization. Design authorities sit across the whole organization to review solution designs and provide assurance that they are fit for purpose. They ensure that requirements are met, and that any solution will work within the wider complex enterprise architecture. There are several design authorities.

The Business Design Authority’s (BDA) primary role is to lead business interests and benefits from the project delivery. The BDA has responsibility for business decision-making, direction, resource delegation, and change management. The BDA facilitates decisions and ensures that the right business experts are available for the project. This shapes the delivery through specific processes and functional business areas.

Technical Design Authority

The Technical Design Authority’s (TDA) primary role is to establish and maintain the PAO’s technical strategy and ensure it is aligned with all ongoing project strategies. They will oversee technical governance and information security principles and control in all matters relating to the technical evaluation of the project while also driving the continual evolution of technical best practices.

Within the project delivery process, the TDA will be responsible for implementing and reviewing the technical aspects of the project to ensure business benefits are met, technical risks, shortfalls, and/or corrective actions are managed promptly, and opportunities are achieved. 

An Agile Project Management Office

The Project Management Office’s (PMO) primary role is to ensure the effective and efficient running of the project and project management processes and controls for an organization. A PMO is concerned with ensuring projects are managing time, cost, and scope for the project delivery and that changes to any of these aspects are reviewed and recorded. This provides project sponsors and stakeholders with assurance that the project is well-managed.

Agile is an approach to delivering software development projects that ensures the availability and adoption of standard and scalable solutions. Its focus is on delivering value to the end customer at the earliest opportunity.

Large-scale projects are broken down into workstreams to deliver discrete packages of work. The PMO then coordinates the delivery of these work packages. Both the Project Manager and the PMO manage interdependencies, ensuring the project meets its goals. These interdependencies may be within or outside the project. An Agile PMO will also ensure progress, risks, issues, change requests, and decisions are reported to the organization’s management and/or leadership. This means the right resource allocation and prompt approvals can be requested and documented. 

Implementing a Continuous Delivery Framework 

A Continuous Delivery framework will encompass both Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) processes. Continuous Delivery is concerned with the robust release of products and services at a pace that just was not achievable prior to adopting CI/CD. 

In CI/CD, all code written as part of a digital transformation (or even after) is version controlled, progressed through a pre-configured delivery pipeline, and assured by integrated tests and an established approval process. These automated and repeatable processes ensure that the codebase is always ready for deployment to a production environment. 

Having a CI/CD pipeline implemented within an organization will help to automate many steps involved in a software delivery program, such as initiating code builds, running automated tests, and deploying to a staging or production environment. Automated pipelines remove manual errors, provide standardized development feedback loops, and enable fast product iterations. 

The benefits of these processes include:

  • Faster and more robust release of products and services to customers. 
  • Frequent releases of working software at any point in development process.
  • Every release meeting a quality baseline. 
  • Minimal effort is required to deploy new code. 
  • Reduced scope for human error reduced by automating repetitive tasks. 
  • Ability to add layers of governance at each stage in the automated process. 

Test, Test… Then Test Again

The main objectives of test assurance for a PAO are to improve the quality of an ‘end’ product and reduce risk, thereby supporting the delivery of high-quality digital services. Test assurance involves a combination of testing processes, standards, tools, and procedures to ensure the product is of the necessary quality and that user requirements have been satisfied.

Both functional and non-functional test techniques may be used. These are designed to measure and increase software quality, reduce risk, and provide quality-related empirical data to decision-makers. 

Approaching Procurement Management Strategically  

Procurement management is the strategic approach to managing, optimizing, and governing organizational spend. It is the acquisition of quality goods and services from preferred vendors within a specified budget, and within a required timeframe.   

A procurement management system can manage all a PAO’s suppliers from end-to-end. That includes evaluation, selection, and creation of formal agreements with suppliers through to the transactional purchasing of goods and services, and then processing and settlement of supplier invoices.

A cloud-based procurement management system is particularly adept at supporting a mobile-first workforce and/or those who work remotely. These cloud-based systems can dramatically increase productivity through user-friendly dashboards that highlight content and insights for prompt action. They also offer an intuitive user experience which helps to enforce purchasing management compliance by making it easier for employees to find what they need and direct purchases to authorized suppliers. 

Supplier management is key within the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practice framework. As officially defined, the ITIL Supplier Management process is all about managing suppliers and the services they supply, to provide seamless, quality IT services in an economical manner. 

All of this will empower a PAO with effective procurement management strategies that reduce organizational risk and increase influence over corporate spending alongside controls to ensure correct authorization and governance.   

Robust procurement management systems implement corporate spend management policies and controls with auditable purchase order workflows to ensure the proper approval of requisitions. They can also improve automated source-to-settle procurement processes by standardizing, streamlining, and automating time-consuming or manual processes. In turn this frees up resources for more strategic activities.

Implementing Efficient Release Management Processes

Release management runs the whole range—from the planning, designing, scheduling, and testing to the deployment and control of software releases. An efficient release management process allows teams to effectively deliver products and services required by a PAO. At the same time, the integrity of the live environment is maintained so disruption to end-users can be minimized.

This allows the IT delivery function to complete more releases, more quickly while having fewer defects to the finished solution. Overall quality is higher when test and release processes are structured, repeatable, and enforced, which reduces costs as less delays or corrective actions are required. 

Selecting the Right Partner to Aid in a Digital Transformation

A key consideration for any digital transformation is an ecosystem of partners that can help the PAO foster a culture of innovation. Choosing the right partner for the right job is essential when the resources to implement, review, or augment work is not available in-house or when the organization wants to bring in new ideas and viewpoints.

A standardized framework to assess and approve partners can empower staff to ensure all IT delivery partners meet the expected levels of quality. Knowing they are vetted and approved increases the likelihood of multiple departments in the organization using experienced partners, making IT a business enabler. A standardize framework can also improve the quality of features delivered to a membership base while reducing the time it takes new applications and features to get to market. An added and welcome benefit of this collaboration is the upskilling of PAO staff through these partnerships.

Complete Your Assessment!

Locate the email sent on behalf of IFAC Membership, with the subject line, "IFAC PAO Digital Readiness Assessment Tool Launch." Your organization's unique access link will be located within.

If you have any issues with registration, please contact support@baselined.app for assistance. 
If you cannot locate the email, please contact 
membership@ifac.org.

Be sure to check out IFAC’s PAO Digital Transformation Series webpage which houses helpful resources, articles and videos on Digital Transformation and is regularly updated!

cloudThing, based in the UK, is a technology company that help organizations such as the British Red Cross, The South African Institute of Accountants, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England & Wales) to name but a few, digitally transform by taking advantage of the automation technology available to them on the cloud. 

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