Virtual Collaboration — How to Make Sure You’re Doing It Right

September 29th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Virtual Collaboration — How to Make Sure You’re Doing It Right)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Marlise Streitmatter, an LMI Human Capital senior consultant, suggests looking beyond cost cutting to make sure that virtual collaboration is being utilized correctly.

lmiOrganizations are increasingly deploying virtual collaboration tools, but are they doing it effectively? To gain the most from these investments, it’s essential to look beyond cost cutting and develop strategies that maximize virtual collaboration’s many benefits.


As people across the organization gain instant access to each other, regardless of geography or job title, collaborating virtually reduces the amount of time and effort needed to perform tasks and answer questions. Research shows that when Alcoa made compliance oversight virtual, it reduced time spent on that function by 61 percent.

In another example, a Ford executive developing a new social media tool used an internal collaborative platform to seek input. His request reached the entire company, and an ambitious employee at a remote site developed a solution over the weekend. No time or money was wasted with procurement, contracting, or longer-paced development.

Accelerated Learning

Virtual collaboration reduces barriers to learning, allowing organizations to become self-teaching. Often, organizational learning is top down. Virtual collaboration facilitates a democratization of learning as employees share knowledge and information across silos. At Ford, employees on the production line use virtual collaboration to share processes and best practices, allowing employees at other plants to learn new skills on the spot without having to travel.


Research reveals connected employees are engaged employees. Collaborating virtually facilitates relationship building by overcoming geographic and organizational boundaries, ultimately driving engagement and productivity. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engages more than 500 senior executives across the country on agency-wide initiatives through virtual executive summits. Leaders connect, pose questions, share ideas, and interact with senior leadership, saving the agency $750,000 in travel costs.

Reduced Costs

Probably the best understood benefit of working virtually is cost reduction. Well-executed virtual collaboration correlates with reduced travel and facilities costs, as noted in the NASA example above. Research shows organizations lower costs by an average of 15 to 20 percent as collaboration matures.

But it’s not only organizations that benefit, employees save money too. Commuting costs, lunch expenses, clothing, and cleaning expenditures all lower for employees working in virtual environments. There’s also a reduction in social costs—the chance of accident and illness are lower. Employee health improves, stress levels drop, and the workforce is happier.

Many organizations use virtual collaboration simply to cut costs. Before choosing specific virtual solutions, it is wise to explore not only how virtual collaboration will help you slim down your budget, but also how working virtually increases your organization’s efficiency, learning, and productivity.

Marlise Streitmatter works in the Organizational and Human Capital Solutions Group at LMI. Previously, Streitmatter was the deputy chief of staff at the U.S Department of Transportation. She has a bachelors in international policy and administration from the University of Illinois Springfield.

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Six Steps to Rationalizing Your IT Portfolio

September 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off on Six Steps to Rationalizing Your IT Portfolio)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Kathryn Palmer, an LMI information management consultant, provides six steps to guide your team in order to manage and modernize your IT portfolio.

CIOs use application rationalization to manage and modernize IT portfolios. This process aligns IT with business needs and mission. It also eliminates redundancies and centralizes data. On a wider scale, application rationalization improves

  • IT infrastructure (leveraging cloud and shared services),
  • user experience, and
  • enterprise-wide resource allocation.

When successful, you may use this process to reinvest savings towards mission critical goals. Use these six steps to guide your team.

1. Baseline Your Applications

Before you invest in or consolidate your IT, take time to understand your full portfolio of applications. Your actual number of applications might not be so apparent. Sometimes an application has different names, depending on who uses it. As you take a full inventory (which serves as your application baseline), also note the key stakeholders who interact with your systems: project managers, IT personnel, and end users.

2. Survey Business and IT Stakeholders

How do your stakeholders value the business and functional aspects of your IT? Create a standard survey that includes questions on whether or not applications align with business needs. If you collect data on an annual basis, year-over-year comparisons will help you measure the value of applications in a coherent way. Ask questions, such as:

  • Rate, on a scale of 1–5, the business and IT value of the application.
  • Does it help you perform your job? Is it critical to your mission?
  • Do you need to enter data twice?

3. Rate Your Applications

Use the Tolerate, Invest, Migrate, and Eliminate (TIME) methodology to systematically assess and measure applications.

  • Tolerate—adequate for current business needs (legacy accounting system that keeps the “lights on”).
  • Invest—functionality needed for new business requirements or modernization.
  • Migrate—applications with capabilities that can be moved to a new application or platform.
  • Eliminate—no longer needed, or no longer used.

The initial TIME quadrant placement may not be perfect, but enables the next step.

4. Gather More Information

To be certain each application is assessed correctly, seek out more input and organizational knowledge. Conduct follow-up meetings to capture business and IT insights, and to validate the reasoning behind IT-related decisions. To make this process as efficient as possible, you can organize meetings to evaluate one quadrant at a time, or one business line’s applications at a time.

When conducting meetings, use questionnaires customized to TIME. Questions for “Eliminate” may ask, why does this application need to be eliminated, what are the savings and avoidances, what data needs to be retained?

Use the information you gather to map applications for the current year and four outlying years. For instance, an application might be in the “Tolerate” quadrant in the initial years before moving towards “Eliminate” in year 5. Projecting the value of your applications over time drives strategic thinking and budget discussions.

5. Generate Recommendations

Validate results with stakeholders, and then generate recommendations with IT leaders and business owners. Be sure to share those recommendations with key decision-makers in your organization (e.g., business line governance boards, investment review boards). In this way, business and IT decision-makers understand why more funding is needed for a particular application, how the funding will drive the strategic direction of the application, and why other applications need to be eliminated.

6. Share Results

Once the analysis is complete, make the results easily accessible to stakeholders who will be impacted by application rationalization. A web portal offers an excellent means for sharing TIME quadrants and the rationale behind each selected application. Sharing results builds credibility, fosters communication, and enables change. Remember to manage change in a way that helps people understand the value of application rationalization and why they must stop using some systems and start using others.

Kathryn Palmer is a member of LMI’s Information Management group, which provides strategic advice and program management support to government agencies implementing enterprise-wide systems. Specializing in enterprise architecture (EA), Ms. Palmer enhances business performance to various federal civil agencies, including organizational restructuring, business process reengineering, operational effectiveness, and governance.



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