How Jason McKay transformed IT into a strategic business partner
Jason McKay is a FWSIM member since 2014 and is the Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Business Process at NAPEC, a leading provider of construction and maintenance services to the public utility and heavy industrial markets.
When Jason joined NAPEC in July 2015 he was faced with two key challenges, an aged and under-utilized ERP implementation, and an IT department that was perceived as ineffective.
NAPEC’s ERP was operating on an unsupported and unstable infrastructure. The implementation had a user acceptance rate of 20% or less and had failed to automate many key business processes. Much of the company was operating by manually intensive processes.
Jason’s first action was to conduct onsite field visits, meet his colleagues, understand the various functional areas, listen, and overall understand what is important for them to do their job. In his assessment, he concluded the key reasons for the low user acceptance rate and ineffectiveness of the ERP were due to an inflexible technology stack, the lack of upfront business involvement in the initial ERP implementation, and the absence of standard business processes.
Selecting a modern, flexible and market leading ERP technology was not his only challenge. The more significant challenges were managing end-user resistance, securing upfront business partner engagement and ownership, and ensuring a new ERP implementation that would provide a business-led, process-centric solution that standardized business processes.
“There are no ‘IT projects’, there are business projects that have technology components. It’s all about the business processes, if you can’t get staff to use the ERP, they won’t be carrying out the processes necessary to keep your business running.”
To address potential barriers and increase the probability of success, Jason formed an IT and business cross-functional project team who was tasked with leading a process-centric approach to solve for the business needs. A benefit to having a cross-functional team was the synergy created from the diversity in experiences, skills, and backgrounds, which led to creativity and enhanced problem-solving. This approach resulted in an increased engagement and ownership from all. Once users felt they were part of the change, their commitment to the system increased.
With regards to the perception of IT, the department was previously viewed as being too technology focused and lacked business acumen and alignment. With a focus on solving for business needs and transforming IT, Jason continuously mentored his team and his stakeholders on the importance of trusted partnerships; establishing clear objectives, roles and responsibilities; having a good business acumen; active listening; effective communications; and recognizing and being honest about weaknesses and gaps discovered in the business process. In addition, when there was an open IT position, Jason would fill it with an individual who understood and effectively could communicate both business and technology topics. In some instances, he rotated-in individuals from other departments resulting in an immediate immersion of business knowledge into IT.
Under Jason’s leadership, his cross-functional teams have successfully reengineered their business. Today, NAPEC is operating its business on state-of-the-art commercially available ERP and CRM SaaS platforms. In addition, the partnership between IT and its business partners has resulted in numerous successful implementations and has attributed to the positive image IT now has within NAPEC. IT is now a results-driven business partner whose focus is on accomplishing the goals of the overall strategic plan and has shifted from being an order-taker to a solutions-provider.
Jason has also served in various IT leadership positions at ALSTOM and Cartus. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Connecticut and has received his Six Sigma certification from Fairfield University. He is an active member of the FWSIM chapter as well as its Westchester Mentoring Circle.
In addition to his IT professional career, Jason is an active volunteer with the Boys Scouts of America; Litchfield Hills Lacrosse; United Way; and the Washington and New Milford Ambulance groups.
Written by Montos Vakirtzis