Kamath agrees that globalization initiatives can't just be dictated to business unit leaders. At IDEX, every operation moved into the private cloud infrastructure -- a step that was transparent to the business -- but Kamath took a more measured approach to transitioning each business unit onto the new application platforms. The platforms delivered clearly understandable business benefits, but each unit came aboard he says, "when they were ready."
Evangelizing is critical, says Webb. "You need to spend a lot of time socializing why the change is a good thing," he says. "And even when people understand it, they will be resistant if it affects their business." Change is disruptive, and having multiple initiatives happening in parallel compounded the problem at Equifax.
Any successful globalization initiative must have the CEO's unwavering support, but it is important to understand that the CEO also has made a commitment to help each business unit meet its goals. "They're focused on top-line growth, and many of these solutions have the potential to get in the way of meeting their goals. You get a lot of pushback," Webb says.
He advises CIOs to be patient and realize that they must strike a balance between accomplishing their goals with globalization and being sensitive to the fact that business unit leaders need to meet those P&L targets. "You have to have the flexibility to slow down and work with the business when things happen. We've gone through multiple iterations of thinking we know where we want to go and then something comes along and derails it."
To maintain support once shared services have been established, and to avoid having business units go rogue, a global IT shared services organization must be highly responsive, says Fortner. "How do you govern standardization to prevent a creep back to everyone wanting their own things? You need to run like a business and be so good that they won't want to go elsewhere." AT P&G, the business units rate the Global Business Services group's performance every year. When the rating system was first adopted 10 years ago, Global Business Services got a score of 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. "We're over a 9.0 now," Fortner says. "Running as a business has forced us to be competitive."
Getting started means overcoming corporate inertia. "The thing that holds people back is the lack of a bold, compelling need to change," Fortner says. "You get stuck in the old business model, and country managers will want to do it their own way. They have to trust that your organization can come in and do it better, faster and cheaper."
Five steps to IT globalization
1. Consolidate infrastructure.
2. Centralize services.
3. Standardize applications.
4. Optimize business processes.
5. Move toward strategic sourcing.