This is part 1 of a 2-part series. The second installment will provide a roadmap to building out a Business Technology team.
It’s clear that Business Technology (BT) teams are growing in number and importance in companies of all sizes. According to an analysis of LinkedIn, Workato found that there are over 5 million people performing a Business Technology role in 2019. Based on the growth in job openings for the role over the past year, it is estimated that by 2022 there will be over 15 million people working on a Business Systems Team.
For high growth companies starting to strengthen their operational capabilities and looking to scale based on demand and/or segmentation, a Business Technology team is key to helping you sort through those challenges. Prior to adoption, you’ll need to do two things:
1. Establish why you need a Business Technology Team and how it differs from traditional IT.
2. Show your CEO exactly how you plan to build one.
Common Problems for C-Suite Without BT
A Chief Financial Officer (CFO), for example, may want to speed up their financial close, but can’t because many finance departments still rely heavily on spreadsheets to perform end-of-the-month reconciliations and most aren’t satisfied with the processes used to do so – with very few involving automation, according to the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). From a sales perspective, they may not have access to total bookings, commissions, or discounts, as these things are typically handled by another department.
This murky insight also leads to issues with reporting, which ultimately hinders accurate predictions into future revenue – as gross bookings equal the retail value of total transactions (minus cancelations and refunds) and what a company would likely report as revenue, which helps gauge demand and predict future sales. All of this is usually due to siloed systems and manual processes. Similar challenges exist for a Chief Revenue Officer and other executives.
From an organizational standpoint, there are other challenges when you don’t have a centralized Business Technology team. While lines of business increasingly want to make their own decisions about the systems they use, they often make these decisions without full insight into the security behind it, the features it offers, and how much it costs (or should cost). A biz tech team can run the vendor through a stringent selection process to ensure the app meets security requirements, plays well with the other apps in your tech stack, and meets the needs of the business team.
Challenges for Business Teams and Processes
It’s not just the C-Suite that suffers without a biz tech team. Both business teams and the functionality of processes will work less than optimally.
Big challenges for business teams may include:
- Siloed systems – no key business data syncing across different apps and systems
- Lack of technical resources to carry out business and data processes for their department
- Limited business functionality enabled in the systems ie. Employee Experience for systems is tedious and difficult
- Technical teams that are managed by a business functional lead, with system development being done within their system scope
- No data quality and integration measures in place
- No architecture and solution design team
- Technical Debt
Business Teams are making huge software investments and then are not enabled to use them properly. But the lost ROI doesn’t stop there – there are functionality challenges as well.
Functionality Challenges for a company may include:
- P2P and R2R visibility
- Order-to-Cash Flow
- Blind Customer Service
- Lack of Business Analytics
If these processes are manual and slow with no way to accommodate non-standard orders that require approval or to triage Customer Service requests by high-value customer, then you are simply not getting the true value of your large investment into various technology platforms.
Solution: A Centralized Business Technology Team Driving Business Initiatives
With a centralized business technology team, you have a dedicated group of specialists working to deliver operational efficiency between systems and teams for better results. Biz tech works in a separate but much-needed capacity from traditional IT, which establishes the infrastructure that runs the business, including connectivity, compliance and security of employee data, and security of business.
Though your biz tech team will take 2-3 years to build up, once completed, they will oversee back-end business technology, front-end business technology, web/middleware integrations, and business intelligence.
1. Back-End Business Technology
These processes are typically overseen by HR and accounting and include Hire-to-Retire, which oversees engagement for an employee’s entire lifecycle, Procure-to-Pay (P2P) which marries purchasing with accounts payable (AP) starting with the first steps of procuring a good or service to the final steps involved in paying for it, Record to Report (R2R) which includes the collection, processing and delivering of accurate and timely data for strategic and financial planning, and overall ops planning.
2. Front-End Business Technology
These processes often deal with enhancing Lead Generation, Sales Motion, and Customer Success and include Lead-to-Order (L2O), Order-to-Cash (O2C) and Issue to Resolution (I2R) processes. O2C comprises the steps used to get paid from a customer and plays a defining role in an organization’s relationship with said customer. L2O oversees the entire process including the seamless integration of Sales, Presales, Product, and Order Management, and I2R focuses on Service Delivery during customer Lifecycle Management, which is the span of time and handling of a customer’s issue from submission to completion.
3. Web/Middleware Integrations and Automations
Middleware, or the software that connects disparate computer systems and allows them to talk, can include eCommerce (and how your online store talks to your ERP for data transfer for order fulfillment and vice versa); EDI with vendors, real-time and batch integrations (the means and standards through which B2B traffic is transferred); Payment Processor (the tool that handles payment transactions – PayPal, Square, Stripe, etc.), and others.
4. Business Intelligence
This includes key performance metrics for Finance, Sales, Marketing and others, if you were to adopt a warehouse tool like Snowflake or data visualization tool like Tableau, and integrate them with your CRM and other hub apps you use.
IT: Establishing Infrastructure Alongside Business Initiatives
Your IT team, on the other hand, would oversee processes keeping you compliant (and secure) including desktop computing, network infrastructure, systems, and security.
Desktop computing includes desktop management, service desk (or your ticketing system and how it’s run), and corporate access management (who needs access to what at what level and who doesn’t). Network infrastructure comprises your LAN and wireless networks and any associated VPNs.
Systems includes servers, virtualization (or the creation of a virtual rather than actual version of something such as a server, desktop, storage device, OS, or network resources), as well as cloud/storage (which could be included in virtualization). And security, which includes physical and systems security, compliance and regulations (as IT needs to know every single app that has access to employee data in order to remain compliant), and data governance (or overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of data used in an enterprise).
As defined above, it’s clear that both IT and business technology oversee different processes that help business run. If IT helps to keep the lights on, biz tech covers departmental technology initiatives so that employees can do their job. The latter directives may come from C-suite, so while IT is keeping business secure, biz tech is fulfilling company objectives.