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Tech creates fresh competitive advantage in the traditional construction field

How NCC’s IT and business grew into equal partners

Nordic construction giant NCC decided to reorganize its IT function so that IT could help develop the business side on a more strategical level while also providing services in a more cost-effective manner. Consolidating five separate IT units from five different countries under one roof was not a simple task, but Sofigate helped NCC reach the goal in record time. Allowing the NCC staff to develop their skills through inclusion was key to successful consolidation.

5 become 1

Construction and property development corporation NCC operates in the Nordics and Russia. In 2016, the company decided to reorganize its operations based on business departments, instead of having separate country organizations. A year later NCC saw it fit to apply the same thinking to its IT organization and consolidate five individual group, country and business IT departments into a single IT and Development function.

“It is essential for the IT and business functions to act as equal partners. A unified IT function can support our business and strategy more efficiently than what was possible for five IT units, each operating from a different country. However, the most critical step in our transformation process was to make sure these five different IT organizations would learn a new, common mode of operation,” says Kari Kulotie, Head of IT Services and Application Delivery at NCC Group.

To create this new organizational structure, NCC decided to partner up with Sofigate, as the business technology company had previously assisted NCC in other transformation projects on a Nordic level.

“Before this project, we had already formed a strong relationship with Sofigate, going back several years in Finland and in Sweden. They had taken part in developing practices and processes in our IT service management and initiated ServiceNow solutions for us. This is why we had confidence in their expertise in successfully executing IT transformation processes,” says Kulotie.

“Unfortunately, it is quite typical especially in large corporations for different departments and functions to develop a partitioned mindset and working practices. In NCC’s case the biggest challenge was the expected cultural change: how to guarantee that the entire organization would be committed to the new model as it transforms from a regional to a shared mode of operation,” says Guus Creusen, Business Technology Director at Sofigate.

Genuine inclusion helps commit to change

As part of its IT organization transformation, NCC streamlined its operations by switching from a systems-based way of thinking into a service-based mindset. The existing 400 IT systems were combined into 50 IT services, each with their own service description and a service catalog.

“We paid great attention to governance and roles while constructing our service management, both on the IT and the business sides. Sofigate supported us in mapping and building the basic ITIL processes and together we made sure that ServiceNew could support these. As a result, we gained a holistic view into our new IT organization: now we are able to see what we produce, at what level and with what response times. Now that we can better measure our IT, we can improve it more easily in the future,” Kulotie says.

An inclusive model of change management employed by Sofigate was the real cornerstone of NCC’s transformation process. Inclusion enabled a greater level of commitment for the staff.

“In most projects Sofigate acts as a turnkey partner, providing best practice solutions to our customers. But in this case NCC preferred to lead the process in a more hands-on style themselves, so our role was more of an advisory one – presenting the best practices and implementing the renewed processes into ServiceNow. This was actually a very smart move considering change management, because it enabled NCC’s own staff to develop their skills and deepen their competencies during the process,” Sofigate’s Creusen says.

The rapid pace of change demanded flexibility from the staff – but provided great rewards by enhancing knowhow and capabilities. NCC invested in training and acquiring a wide array of certificates to ensure their key personnel could develop necessary new skills.

“A transformation such as ours usually takes up to eighteen months, but we executed the project in six. What we found out was that true knowledge is born through practice. Even though we had helped people prepare by offering training and support for implementing new tools and practices, we realized people actually alter their ways of working only at the point where the organizational change ‘goes live’,” says NCC’s Kulotie.

Competitive edge through tech – in a traditional field

Perhaps the most visible result of NCC’s organizational transformation is the growth of its IT function into a true partner and developer of the company’s business operations. This is the reason why the group no longer simply speaks of an IT unit, but instead uses the wider moniker ODIT – for Operations Development & IT.

“The construction field is quite a traditional business but NCC is a brave pioneer in it. Now that their organizational model and basic processes are in excellent shape, the company can start building fresh competitive advantage through technology,” Creusen says.

Consolidating its IT operations brought cost savings for NCC as the company was able to combine overlapping functions. Most of all, the transformation acted as a real mandate-builder for ODIT inside the group. “The ideal situation is for Business and IT to be partners – instead of the other one placing orders and the other fulfilling them. Now that IT and OD are combined, we can create additional value and coordinate business development on the group level also when it comes to business processes,” Kulotie says.

A CIO’s tips for organizational transformation

NCC Group’s Head of IT Delivery and Application Services Kari Kulotie shares his personal takeaways from a successful IT organization transformation process:

Invest in service structure

”I recommend everyone to think through their own service structure and to start from the right direction. You want to create your organizational structure based on your service structure – not the other way around.”

Involve key personnel

”Make sure that the right persons with the right competencies are involved in the transformation process. Get them involved at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Don’t get lost in details

”It is so easy to get hung up on details – but that can make you lose track of the goal. Try to work from a wider perspective: executing change is difficult if you don’t constantly have the big picture on your mind.”

Reinventing the wheel is unnecessary

”If others have created proven solutions, it is not worth your while to try to reinvent them yourself. Using the vision of an external partner – such as Sofigate – helps you to utilize models that have been tried and tested by others.”

Adjust on the move

”It is essential to prepare, plan and train well in advance – but practice is the best teacher. In my opinion, it’s better to go live with the transformation quickly and then react to possible problems on the move. Otherwise you might get too cautious and cause unnecessary delays.”

We had full confidence in Sofigate’s expertise in successfully executing it transformation processes.

Kari Kulotie

Head of IT Services and Application Delivery, NCC

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