The power of teamwork in IT planning

The power of teamwork in IT planning

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When the son of Colonel Eli Lilly, founder of Eli Lilly and Company, joined his father's company after pharmacy school, Lilly told him: “Take what you find here… and make it better and better.” More than 130 years later, we took that advice to heart as we set out to develop our long-term strategic IT plan.

When I first joined Lilly, I started by looking at what we had, and I found fantastic things. We were running one global instance of SAP worldwide. We had a good data center strategy with disaster recovery and high availability that kept it all running. We had great solutions for our CRM. We had an incredible environment to build on. I didn't come into a house on fire. Nothing needed fixing; we just needed to figure out where we were going to support Lilly's return to growth as we bridged the period we call “Years YZ,” when we faced a series of major patent expirations.

Show the team where they fit in

Developing a long-term strategic IT plan is going to be different for every company. Every organization has its own unique culture, problems, and opportunities that will need to be addressed. Still, there are some common approaches you can take to ensure success. In particular, it's imperative that the people who will be involved in delivering the plan be part of preparing it. It has to be theirs. They have to see where it satisfies the part of the company they support. How is the plan going to improve the results of the part of the business they work with? Whether it’s the manufacturing or the commercial group or the product development group or the research team, how is the strategy going to help them?

They have to see where they fit. And the best way to ensure that happens is to make sure they play a role in defining the strategy. You can't tell them how it's going to happen. By building the IT strategy together, you can work toward it together. And that's when you'll get real results.

Benefits of working together

For us at Lilly, working together to build our long-term strategic IT plan had an especially positive side effect – it pulled the IT leadership team and IT team itself together. This was important because over the past five years, the IT organization had not had stable leadership across the enterprise. During this time, all of the IT leaders did a fabulous job of self-leading, but they became siloed to the group they supported. And we really needed to use working together to build our team together. There is no better way to build a team than to define how we’re going to build and grow and be who we are in the future to support the company objectives.

Ina Kamenz is former Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Eli Lilly and Company where she led the global Lilly IT function that drives innovation throughout the organization. Her organization is responsible for global delivery of IT operations, products and services.

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