7 Lessons Learned During a Large-scale IT Transformation

Mark Smith By Mark Smith November 5, 2015

Sometimes the insight you need to resolve a problem turns out to be right in your own backyard. When EMC IT decided to transform its IT operating model almost two years ago, it made sense for them to turn to an inside resource—our EMC Global Services consulting team —for help.

After all, the Global Services IT Transformation practice had years of experience helping clients transform their IT operations. We could apply that experience to move the EMC IT effort forward. In turn, our consulting team could benefit from guiding one of the industry’s largest IT transformations, through which we could refine our consulting approach and best practices on a larger scale than we had ever done before.

Breaking new ground

There were several features of EMC IT’s transformation that were different from other efforts our group had worked on in the past. While most organizations tackle changes in their operations by building out one service center or demand area at a time, EMC IT decided to transform its entire operation by creating seven service centers simultaneously. It was a very bold move that required focusing more on a holistic demand management and service center structure. We learned a great deal about scaling transformation efforts, how to push the envelope in implementation, and how to enhance our approach to the relationship between IT and the business.

One important move made in this process was assigning an IT leader who runs a service center to also take on the dual role of demand center responsibility for a given business unit. This enabled EMC IT to run their IT operations while keeping the perspective of the business in sight.

We also spent more time on the people aspect of the changes, working with HR to redefine job families and focusing on human change management—creating a process to help IT employees and leaders cope with change. This was made more challenging by the fact that EMC IT spans the globe and also includes several corporate Centers of Excellence.

Lessons learned

  1. Start by defining your organization’s values and use them to drive your transformation.
  2. Embed IT leaders and demand center teams in each business unit. This will do more to improve the relationship between IT and the business than anything else.
  3. Create a process to help IT employees and leaders cope with and embrace change. Keep communicating throughout the process—that makes the changes less overwhelming.
  4. You can be on a multiyear transformation journey, but you can’t stop and start. It is an iterative process, and you always need to redefine where you are at and look for the next iteration. To that end, a multiyear roadmap is very helpful.
  5. This is a process and not a program. We viewed transformation in the past as a program. Based on our experience, we realized that transformation is a process. We developed a longer term roadmap which was broken down by the various service centers to allow EMC IT to chart their course going forward.
  6. Education and communication about how the new IT operating model works are crucial. You cannot over-communicate with your organization on this subject no matter how hard you try. EMC IT has continued to communicate extensively with employees throughout the entire process, but we still have people struggling to understand pieces of the operating model or how to do their jobs. We’ve learned that communication is a critical ongoing process.
  7. Good leadership is essential to moving the process along. EMC IT’s CIO, Vic Bhagat, and his direct reports continue to provide the top-down leadership and support so vital to a successful transformation.

Where we are

Though the transformation is ongoing, EMC IT has made great strides in becoming a customer-focused service provider. In fact, we are in the process of assessing EMC IT’s maturity level to determine how it has progressed from our initial maturity assessment completed in January 2014 when our consulting involvement began.

Moving forward, EMC IT will be less focused on transformation and more driven by the fact that continuous learning and improvement are part of our work in meeting the changing demands of the business users we serve.

Meanwhile, our IT transformation consultants have been able to test and refine enhanced transformation approaches around people and values and have gained experience in scaling a massive, organization-wide transformation. We’ve tested things; we’ve proven them; we’ve made mistakes and learned from them. As a result, our team is now more ready than ever to leverage what we learned with EMC IT to better inform our work with our other clients as they undertake their IT transformations.

For more information on EMC IT’s transformation, please visit

Mark Smith

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2 thoughts on “7 Lessons Learned During a Large-scale IT Transformation

  1. On point article for any organization looking at the future role of IT and how to manage transformation. Thanks for sharing!