Lotus F1 CIO Graeme Hackland CIO believes having an application strategy that allows employees to find and develop their own solutions is key to maintaining control of an enterprise IT environment.
Hackland explained that a lot of companies are struggling to keep track of what is running in their environment, because employees are increasingly buying and downloading applications without the knowledge of the IT department.
This can be a particular problem for organisations with very strong governance policies in place, because getting an application approved often takes a long time and employees become impatient.
Hackland said that organisations should not necessarily seek to control the applications that people use -- instead they should focus on protecting the data. This means allowing employees to choose the solutions they want, but encouraging them to involve IT in the process.
"I don't mind if someone in electronics or in aerodynamics or in another part of the business wants to build their own apps or find apps out there that they want to use, but include us in it," said Hackland.
"Often these guys will produce the best apps from a usability point of view, but maybe not the best app that's going to be robust, so we bring them into our coding standards and we explain why we code the way we do.
"Then instead of that one person doing all of the development testing, deploying it, supporting it, we try and normalise it and say, you do the development but our tester will do the testing, and our change and release manager will put it into the production environment."
Whereas in the past, these employees may have kept their app development activities to themselves, by being open and allowing them to choose their own apps, the IT department can now work with them in partnership, making the loss of control less scary.
Lotus F1 has been working with managed services provider Avanade since 2012 to implement Microsoft Dynamics AX, as part of a wider business transformation process.
In the past, different departments such as aerodynamics, design, manufacturing, race engineering, finance, HR, sales and marketing all operated in their own environments with their own tools, and Lotus F1 had to spend a lot of time developing interfaces between applications.
However, Dynamics is an integrated system that provides an end-to-end view, so if someone in one department comes up with a concept, IT can follow it all the way through the process of approvals, purchasing, buying materials, making the parts, sitting in stores and going into cars.
"Our application strategy focuses on the tools that we use and the fact that we've standardised on .NET -- making sure that we embrace the latest methodologies so that we don't get left too far behind," said Hackland.
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