IT Planning at ModMeters
Taking ModMeters global from a North American operation seemed to be a logical next step for the company. Its products, metering components of all types, were highly specialized and in great demand from such diverse customers as utility companies, manufacturers, and a host of other industries. Originally founded as Modern Meters, the firm had grown steadily as demand for its metering expertise and components had grown over the past century or so.
Today ModMeters was the largest producer of metering components in the world with a full range of both mechanical and, now, digital products. Expanding into meter assembly with plants in Asia and Eastern Europe was a good plan,
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Because of its age and scientific orientation, ModMeters (as he still preferred to call it) had been in the IT business a long time. Starting back in the early 1960s, the company had gradually automated almost every aspect of its business from finance and accounting to supply chain management.
ModMeters currently had systems reflecting just about every era of computers from punch cards to PCs. Unfortunately, the company never seemed to have the resources to invest in re-engineering its existing systems. It just layered more systems on top of the others. A diagram of all the interactions among systems looked like a plate of spaghetti. There was no way they were going to be able to support two new strategic thrusts with their current budget levels, he thought as he applauded the new design along with the others.
We’ve put a lot of effort into developing this new strategy, and there will be some extra money for IT but not enough to do that plus everything all of you want. We need to retrench and regroup and move forward at the same time.
The way I see it, we have to understand two things before we can really make a new budget. First, we need to figure out how each of the IT projects we’ve got on the table contributes to one of our key corporate objectives. Second, we need to figure out a way to determine the value of each to ModMeters so that we can prioritize it.
This process will need to accomplish a number of things: It will need to take an enterprise perspective on IT. We’re all in these new strategies together. It will have to incorporate all types of IT initiatives—our new strategies, the needs of Fred and others for the new IT to operate and improve our existing business, Stan’s new auditing needs, and our operations and maintenance needs. In addition, we must find some way of allocating some of the budgets to fixing the mess we have in IT right now. It must provide a better way to connect new IT work with our corporate objectives. It must help us prioritize projects with different types of value. Finally, it must ensure we have the business and IT resources in place to deliver that value.