MIS Quarterly Executive


This case study describes how Farm Credit Canada, which provides financial services for Canadian agricultural businesses, is transforming itself into a process-centric organization. To support this transformation, FCC's IT function has restructured from a silo organization, with each silo supporting applications for a particular business function, to a service-centered model, where applications are constructed according to service oriented architecture (SOA) principles. The transformation is described in six steps.In Step 1, the CEO initiated a culture change initiative that underpinned his vision of creating a customer-centric organization. Step 2 focused on what needed to be done to integrate the corporation's processes and systems to enable it to provide a great customer experience. The outcome was two initiatives, one to redesign the corporation's processes, the other to transform the IT function to support enterprise processes and integration.Step 3 was the transformation of the IT organization. First, the newly appointed CIO assessed the current state of the IT organization (and all current IT projects were halted while this was done). He then designed the new structure, moving away from the old application-centered silo approach to an architecture-centric one supported by SOA principles. The move to the new organizational model was accomplished in just 90 days, a timescale that would have been impossible without the full and active support of the CEO.Proof of concept was undertaken in Step 4 by implementing a carefully chosen business process with SOA. But first, FCC had to make a multimillion investment in the foundational technologies. Once implemented, this redesigned process favorably impressed FCC's senior executives and sent front-line satisfaction with IT soaring. The corporation was then well set to move on to Step 5 the detailed redesign of other processes, and working through the governance issues of managing a process-driven IT organization.The benefits to date of transforming the IT function and its technology were articulated in Step 6. The CIO identified six benefits: (1) Improved and more effective communication between the business and IT; (2) Streamlined business processes; (3) Improved scores for IT staff engagement; (4) Reusable IT assets; (5) Support for the long-term vision; and (6) Proven technical viability of the SOA approach. These last two benefits arose directly from the successful proof of concept (implementing the initial business process).The transformation of FCC to a process-centric organization is continuing apace, and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.