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How to Replatforming a Major Organization

Alignment
Changing A Company
Company Culture
Conflict Solving
Convincing
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Changing Company
Agile / Scrum

19 January, 2022

Jason De Oliveira
Jason De Oliveira

CTO at Vialink

Jason De Oliveira, CTO for more than 10 years, describes his methods of re-platforming an organization with nearly thirty years of existence using specific techniques and technologies.

Transforming an Established Organization

A previous company in my career history was in the process of working on tools for enterprise architecture. They had nearly 30 years of history working in this space, and many of the individuals working were there long-term. The company was working using a V-model approach, creating specifications and having long development cycles. I was hired to review the company's internal workings and put into place new processes around agile, scrum, and new technologies.

The organization worked with C++, which worked well for many parts of the solutions but didn’t translate well to the cloud era. I implemented best practices to deliver products faster, more often, and globally. My main challenge was to understand the history of the company and C++ technologies while transforming other parts of the organization to allow new deployment methods.

The Structure of a Replatform

Auditing the Processes:

The first step I took when I came into the organization was auditing the system. I interviewed everyone in the company and to gain an understanding of their pain points and successes. The audit brought me an understanding of what worked well and what didn’t. From the audit, I provided the company with a two to three-year plan detailing how to transfer the company's landscape. I explored the first steps in repurposing the platform, implementing some new technologies, and migrating to the cloud.

Forming New Partnerships:

I leveraged my network to build a partnership with Microsoft, using their easily available technologies for re-platforming. With the partnership in place, I found different clients and began deploying all around the world. We connected with clients in Mexico, the US, and Southeast Asia, to shorten our deployment cycles and modernize how we worked.

Change Management:

It was difficult to handle the technical part of the change, but the more difficult aspect was opening the team's minds. As mentioned previously, many individuals worked at the company for over 20 years, doing the same tasks using a similar method. I challenged myself to spark interest with those team members, convincing them to pursue change and exploration.

To do so, I showed interest in their method and tried to understand why it worked for them. Moving forward, I applied some of the techniques I saw into my new method, creating a level of familiarity for my team members. From there, I showcased my technique and found that individuals were more apt to listen after I had displayed interest in their methods.

Unblocking a Team:

Sometimes, I hit blockers where individuals didn’t agree with my new method of doing things. Instead of denying their emotions, I accepted their feelings and empathized with their aptitude for change. I found that even sometimes, these individuals were right about the new technologies having lower performance. C++ was optimized for performance, and while the new technologies worked well, they didn’t display the desired result for everything.

Once I discovered a solution to unblock my team, the individuals that pushed back against change became my closest partners. Including the entire team, especially those who had critical feedback about changes, was essential to ensure that the team felt included. I was not the only individual with a solution in mind and needed to recognize that to reduce opposition.

Advice Moving Forward

  • I enjoy working in a structured environment with my teams. This means that an audit was the vital first step and should be the first step for anyone performing a complete replatform. After taking everything into account, it allows priorities to be clearer and goals to be firm.
  • It is essential to not only dictate the successes but the failures as well. Sharing the shortcomings will ensure that a team does not make the same mistake more than once and moves a team forward. Your team members will view you as a just leader that is understanding and honest.

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