Change Culture + Change Processes = Productivity Gains

I was excited to attend the CIO100 Symposium and Awards Ceremony (#CIO100) last week in Colorado Springs. The prevailing themes focused on digitization, improving the customer experience, data and analytics, and the CIO role as a business leader who drives process and cultural change. The presentations were full of innovative ideas and insights. I also learned a lot in casual conversations with my peers as we compared notes about solutions, tools, and approaches used in our companies.

ServiceNow hosted a CIO panel, How To Foster New Levels of Innovation and Productivity, moderated by Chris Pope, Senior Director, Office of the CSO. I joined the panel with two of our customers, Mike Bartell, CIO, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Gary Watkins, CIO, IT Shared Services, KAR Auction Services, Inc. We discussed ways to drive higher levels of productivity and cited examples from our experiences. The conversation was unscripted and authentic – the audience was engaged and we had many follow up conversations.

CIO Panel: How To Foster New Levels of Innovation and Productivity (video playtime: 31:10)


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Chris kicked off the discussion, pointing out that about 2 days a week can be wasted on administrative tasks, according to our recent Productivity Drain study. We all agreed that there are a lot of manual, unstructured processes throughout our organizations that hold back teams from focusing on high value activities. I cited before-and-after examples from ServiceNow that support the findings of the study. We have seen significant reduction in cycle time result from creating structured workflows.

Mike Bartell pointed out that while CIOs have been traditionally focused on people, processes and technology, he thinks the primary role of CIOs today is focusing on people and processes, more than technology. He added that the cultural aspect of an organization is one of the most critical aspects of change and improving productivity.

On this note, Gary Watkins shared that his team is identifying ways to reduce “internal spam”, which is their term for the emails used to perform work. They are analyzing specific processes to automate, thus intending to reduce this spam and the time that people have to spend managing processes with email.

At ServiceNow, in an audit of our purchase ordering processes, we found that it took roughly 30,000 emails to process 2000 purchase orders. That’s about 15 emails per single request. We set up a self-service process and structured workflow to manage purchasing. As we result, we have reduced cycle time for standard purchase orders from five days to two days – a 60% reduction!

While we all highlighted unique examples of how we are improving productivity, we shared the same views on fostering innovation and productivity. Here are our key take-aways:

  • IT needs to become more proactive, keep pace with business growth, and focus on changing the way work is done. The days of managing infrastructure as our primary jobs are behind us.
  • There’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right things. Attack problems from the process point of view. The technology will follow.
  • Capture the work. By getting work out of email and into systems of engagement, business leaders have visibility into what is actually happening. Email-based processes are not transparent and managers can’t tell what’s going on. Don’t focus on automation until you know what chunks of work are impacting the team. Then automate the most impactful processes.
  • People want to become their own experts. Create more self-service opportunities and modernize the employee experience.

The common dominator last week was that the CIO role is focused less on technology and more on business outcomes, specifically, revenue growth, the customer experience, innovation, productivity, and helping drive cultural changes. Do you agree?


Additional resources:

Oak Ridge National Lab case study: New Discoveries in the Science of Service Management

Jay Anderson
Jay Anderson joined ServiceNow in October 2013 to oversee the company’s global IT strategy aligned with managing tremendous growth in employees, customers, partners and suppliers. Jay is focused on pushing the limits of service management across the enterprise to demonstrate its flexibility in helping solve the business needs of every department. Prior to joining ServiceNow, Jay was Vice President of Engineering at Data Domain and EMC (via acquisition). Before Data Domain, Jay was the CIO of Pinnacle Systems, where he held vice president roles in manufacturing and customer support. Jay also spent 15 years at Hewlett Packard, starting his career in manufacturing engineering, progressing to leadership roles in engineering, manufacturing, and customer support. Jay graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

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