Business needs always change, but it’s hard to focus on meeting them when you’re distracted by operations. Accenture CIO Frank Modruson came up with a novel solution: He moved his operations staff -- about 80 percent of the IT headcount -- into its own subsidiary, leaving the remaining 20 percent (including him) to focus on engineering and new development directly connected to business requirements. “Projects and planning are very different kinds of work than operations,” he says.
The result: Operational costs fell to half of what they had been. One reason for the savings is that the spun-out operations unit added external customers and achieved an economy of scale it could not have as part of Accenture’s internal IT. The unit has actually become a revenue center.
With operations off the table, Modruson refocused the engineering staff on improving its processes, aligning development with business goals. And he was able to reduce management overhead and increase agility by relying on techniques he learned as a volunteer firefighter: implementing a system that ensures clear authority no matter who works with whom, and a standard way of scaling communication no matter what the size of the project. That approach lets IT both innovate and respond quickly, so the business can too.