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How one company redefined IT’s role and reaped the benefits

by Sarah Cenedella

September 8, 2010

Sarah Cenedella, Insider Learning Network

There are a lot of pressures on an IT department (or perhaps any department) to keep all the systems healthy, respond to issues and bottlenecks quickly, stay on top of skills and market trends, and keep up on on-going projects. And with all those demands, there is very little (if no) time to sit back and think strategically about how the IT team, and the technology it supports, can proactively advance the business.

It was Tom Rodden’s dream to transform his SAP IT department from a traditional technical support role to a position where IT is providing greater support for value-generating projects and initiatives. Rather than farm out the strategic development to third parties and use in-house talent for maintenance, Rodden, the Director of Enterprise Applications at Varian Medical Systems, flipped the model. He brought in a global outsourcing provider to help with day-to-day support, freeing the in-house IT team to focus on projects that add value to the business. The result: Improved projects, more effective support, faster system performance, and a happier IT team.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Rodden and asked him what he thought others could take away from his experience. He cited all the benefits that he and his IT team have gleaned from this transformation, including improved system performance (he reports that Varian Medial ranks in the top 5% in SAP’s efficiency benchmarking tests), a happier IT team (because they are more strategic), and a strong partnership with SAP helping to shape future releases and products.

Rodden shares his story, and how he transfo rmed his IT team while undertaking some major SAP initiatives (including an upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0 and a roll out of SAP ERP HCM to 31 countries) in an article Redefining IT’s Role at Varian Medical Systemsfrom the July/August/September issue of insiderPROFILES*.

In the article, Rodden says that, “Other companies may not consider IT as a real partner that has good ideas about how to create better and more efficient processes … we have demonstrated that we really are a valuable partner to the business and, in many cases, we can lead the charge.”

There is some truth to the notion that technical teams are there to solve problems, but there are also many instances where they can also be a proactive, strategic part of the business. Perhaps your team has “flipped the model” in ways that have proven them to be critical to business improvement. I will be moderating a live Q&A with Rodden here on Insider Learning Network. Please join us, ask Rodden your own questions on how he achieved his goal, and share your own experiences of how you have positioned your own team to be a strategic entity to the business.

Join Tom Rodden from Varian Medical for a live Q&A on Insider Learning Network on September 23 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST where you can ask him your toughest questions on how he turned his IT team into a powerful enabler of business improvement and h ow you can apply these practices to your own IT team.

To participate in the live chat and ask Tom your questions, simply join the IT Group on Insider Learning Network, and then come to the IT forum on September 23 at 1:00 ET.

To submit your question in advance, please enter it in a comment below.

*In order to view this article you do need to be a member of Insider Learning Network. Complete your free membership

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