BETTER ALIGNMENT OF BUSINESS AND IT LEADS TO SATISFIED USERS
Created in 1994 by the industry sector, Fost Plus is a non-profit organisation responsible for collecting and sorting household packaging waste in Belgium. However, the 20-year old existing Fost Plus client-server platform, no longer meets current needs and the company wanted to better align business and IT. As a result, Fost Plus created a well thought out renewal project with LoQutus as a strategic partner.
Fost Plus enters into contracts with waste companies and reimburses them for collecting glass, paper/cardboard and PMD (plastic bottles, metal packaging and drink cartons). The sale of these recyclable materials and the contributions given by members – i.e. the companies which are responsible for putting the packaging on the market - finance this operation. The packaging that is on the market from the 5,200 member companies on the one hand, and the collection and the recycling of data through inter-municipal waste and recycling companies on the other, are collected via a client-server platform. With this data, they are able to demonstrate to the Government that they are complying with regulations.
The project was created from establishing that the platform needed a structural renewal and from the clear need to better align business and IT. A purely technological update was financially uninteresting. The significant investment of resources and time in the new platform was justifiable only if it was to include enough new business functionalities.
Therefore, Fost Plus was looking for a partner to launch a BITA project (Business & IT Alignment). It chose LoQutus. Kurt Tierens, Director of Finance & Human Resources at Fost Plus, explains the choice: “Fost Plus already had a number of successful joint projects with LoQutus, a reference in the Belgian market in terms of Enterprise Architecture and guiding organisations towards ‘digital enterprise’.”
LoQutus wanted the process to run in the most optimal way so the company appointed Frank Lemmens as being responsible for Enterprise Architecture within Fost Plus. He was selected for his technical competencies but above all for his close understanding of Fost Plus’ corporate culture and core values.
A BITA SOLUTION IN 5 STEPS
Fost Plus defined its specific needs following an internal survey. The LoQutus experts then translated them into bespoke workable solutions within a completely new cooperation framework aligning Business and IT.
The first step of the BITA project was the appointment of the formal position of Enterprise Architect within Fost Plus. This was followed by the creation of a BITA Board. This group consists of five people and has a 360° vision of the organisation. Their task is to complete the Business & IT Alignment in an optimal way.
Meanwhile, both partners developed an IT Roadmap for the next four years (2014-2017). The Roadmap is fully aligned with the strategic objectives of Fost Plus and clearly states what projects will be carried out at what time: new applications, changes to existing applications, etc.
Establishing a new development methodology is the final phase of the BITA project and enables Fost Plus to make the transition from a ‘waterfall methodology’ to a ‘scrum development methodology’. The goal? Greater involvement of the users, who can quickly determine the results achieved.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
Fost Plus and LoQutus have already achieved tremendous progress with this project. Frank Lemmens comments: “The Roadmap is finished, the BITA Board is operational and the new development methodology is in the start-up phase. As for the Enterprise Architect, Fost Plus wants to fill this strategic position internally in the long term, obviously still with the necessary coaching and support from LoQutus.”
Actually, the entire BITA project is dominated by more involvement of both Business and IT. Nowadays, Business feels much more involved in IT projects in general, so it seems. It thinks along, feels that it has a say in the decision-making and that the additional workload is taking into account. This considerably increases the sense of responsibility for the success of IT projects.
In the past, it sometimes occurred that the allocated budget was not aligned seamlessly with the time available to complete a project. Kurt Tierens clarifies: “Determining the budgets nowadays happens with greater flexibility than before and with the participation of all involved parties, directly affecting the price tag positively. Business gets more satisfaction out of it, although it is eventually and through its own demand performing with about 15% less IT budget nowadays..”
Every month, a strategic consultation meeting takes place where Fost Plus explains how the organisation deploys IT to serve the business and how it protects the processes.
A COLLABORATION IN THE LONG TERM
It is already clearly noticeable that everybody is going in the same direction. All parties involved are aware of the progress of project in the short, medium and long term. This enables all parties to perfectly organise themselves and prepare for the coming months and years.
Fost Plus evaluates the cooperation with LoQutus very positively. The Enterprise Architect integrated perfectly into the organisation. That kind of immersion in the working practices and methods of an organisation is an absolute prerequisite to outline the architecture in an efficient and forward-looking way.
The first visible results (Roadmap, vision notes around CRM and document management...) are enthusiastically received by all concerned.
Fost Plus expects that LoQutus will continue its advice, coaching and guidance in the near future in order to lead the process in the right direction in the coming years.