5 steps to centralising disparate technology teams

In 2012, Macmillan reorganised its global organisation along division lines. By 2013, it went from having several, disparate technology teams servicing individual publishing divisions to one centralised operation, working in a common way and taking advantage of scale and synergy opportunities.

How did we achieve this?

Organisation design

It was necessary to structure the plethora of technology teams across the business into a simple, optimised and efficient organisation model. The structure needed to be aligned with business, technology and process requirements.

>See also: Inside Macmillan’s digital transformation

We started by creating a strong, centralised management team, then designing an organisation structure whereby we created teams that were functional centres of excellence offering a service across the whole of Macmillan Science and Education; a transition from generalist teams offering all services to individual divisions.

We then developed job families for technology incorporating a consolidated set of roles slotted into five disciplines: delivery management and support; analysis and architecture; development and design; quality assurance; and platform operations.

Everyone in technology was allocated to a role and every role sits within one of the five disciplines.

The implementation of job families provided clarity for us and the business, reduced the very wide range of different job titles we used for the same role, and created building blocks for development plans and technical career paths.

Strategy and roadmap

We needed to become a single technology organisation in theory and practice.

Firstly, we needed to align technology with Macmillan Science and Education’s strategic vision, objectives and values and this meant placing the customer at the heart of what technology does.

Secondly it was necessary to define some clear strategic principles for the centralised team including: consolidation of legacy systems servicing the same functional areas; reducing the proliferation of technology stacks; ensuring technology is reusable across divisions; and providing high quality, predictable, repeatable service delivery and support services in line with agreed service levels.

Thirdly, we needed to ensure a consistent approach was applied by all so that roadmaps, projects and services we delivered would have the same structure and processes. 

People and behaviours

We needed to think and act as one team. We developed an ethos making very clear our purpose and scope, what success looks like and our guiding principles.

The work done on job families as part of the organisation design and our new found scale proved to be building blocks to enabling technical career path progression, growth and change for our new technology organisation along with training and development.

We also needed to focus on developing people so they are ready to replace us and built a talent management and succession model as one of the clear aims for the transformation of technology was to retain and attract the best talent in a highly competitive market.

Understanding and communicating the benefits

It was vital that we not only understood the benefits of centralising technology but those benefits were clearly conveyed to the business and the members of the newly integrated technology division.

A lot of the benefits of the transformation are about realising the potential of scale and leveraging that scale by using more common systems and processes.

>See also: Leadership in the age of digital transformation

We are able to develop strategic roadmaps, adopt project management best practice, track costs and benefits, improve the value of BAU, and establish formal and consistent service delivery processes that include SLAs and regular reporting against KPIs. We can standardise and improve turnaround on ROI and business benefits.

Stakeholder engagement and communication

A key component of the transformation process was a robust communication plan for the duration of the process itself, but also for life after transformation.

We established touch points for key roles within the new organisation structure and we agreed a clear engagement model with the business for projects and BAU, including RACI models (responsibility assignment matrix) with business counterparts in each of the portfolio areas.

We also established regular communications to help inform and educate business leaders about technology change on an ongoing basis.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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