Coca-Cola and Big Bangs

I must be one of the few people in the world who can’t stand the taste of Coke.  Certain developers where I work could potentially survive only on Coke but that’s just not me.

However, I don’t hold a grudge against any organisation just because I don’t like their main product.  So I was pleased and impressed to read CIO Interview: Big changes come from small steps in this week’s UK Computer Weekly where the interviewee was Tania Howarth, CIO of Coca-Cola Europe.

I found myself nodding along to many of her points regarding the role of the IT function.  Amongst my favourite nuggets were:

  • Changing the focus from transformational change to continuous improvement.
  • Everyone in the (IT) team must understand the business.
  • Even junior technical managers have “client” responsibility.

 I really like all this customer focus and the appreciation that the IT function is no longer the tail wagging the organisational dog but an integral part of the business – an enabler.

However, the most interesting message that came out of the interview for me, is the focus on incremental progress rather than a big bang approach.  This is a trend I am seeing in many enterprise sized organisations.

If you take an incremental “bite sized chunks” approach and ensure that you are delivering real business benefits each time a project is delivered, it’s amazing how quickly a few small improvements add up to a large hill of beans.

In fact, if you then look back at the costs versus the benefits, typically the total costs are lower and the total benefits are higher than a big bang project.

Is this just a fashionable trend in enterprise IT, or is it the beginning of the end for uber-big bang IT projects?

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