When Jay Ferro, 46, joined the American Cancer Society as CIO three years ago, he was given a herculean task -- to transform the nonprofit's 12 independent divisions and corporate headquarters into a single entity, beginning with IT.
That challenge involved dealing with hundreds of systems, multiple data centers, varying ways of offering IT support, a hodgepodge of technology stacks, diverse business processes and a mix of approaches to executing the 101-year-old organization's mission.
Today, ACS is one legal entity and the IT department is on its way to becoming a streamlined operation. A collection of 600 applications has been pared down to fewer than 200, and hardware inventory around the country, which included thousands of servers, has been reduced by 40%. What's more, user satisfaction with IT has gone from around 70% before the transformation to 98%.
The IT department also changed how it works with business units. "We had to have far more business acumen than we did, and we needed to have a much more robust communication structure and strategy where people could make decisions very quickly and have up-to-the-minute information," Ferro explains. So he created six new technology senior consultant positions that would be liaisons to the business units.
The restructuring has been successful, Ferro says. "We're not seen as just IT suppliers but almost as business consultants," he says.
Most important for Ferro, the IT department is spending much more of its time driving the society's mission. "Our job is to end cancer and support those who are going through that battle," he says. "I want our IT department to feel very connected to that."
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