Harris needed to set some priorities and find a way to be more efficient in his spend of IT tech dollars.
The first thing he did was build a map of the company, aligning business activities with the technologies underlying them.
"I created a picture of the business, using English words or business terms-not a lot of tech-speak," Harris said. "I used it to talk with the businesspeople about the key things we do to run this business. And then I mapped the techs we have that supported these business activities and color-coded them red, yellow or green for the state, or the condition, of the technologies."
Anything that was red, for example, had a higher priority than any technologies that were green.
This document gave Shaklee's IT department a good understanding of the business and its priorities, and it communicated to the business side in a clear manner what the state of each technology was.
"[The document] enabled us then to put forth a road map for the rest of the business-where we needed to make investments, how and when," Harris said. "It was kind of that process that we used to get alignment."
At the same time, Harris came up with a number of technology architecture principles. One of them was that, wherever possible, the company would leverage new technologies that enabled faster time to market, a reduction in the amount of infrastructure that needed to be built and maintained, and a reduction in costs.
Fortuitously, Harris said, at the same time, software-as-a-service technologies and the SAAS marketplace were starting to take off.
Harris had worked with SAAS applications, including Salesforce.com, before he came to Shaklee. He was hopeful that leveraging the SAAS model would help him update aging applications quickly and relatively inexpensively.
"We had our map of the entire business spectrum, and what we said was that every application that we need to look at replacing, we're going to try to replace with a SAAS-based solution, including strategic applications," Harris said. "We look at all the potential apps, but it's usually the case that a SAAS vendor can deliver faster, cheaper and better than a traditional vendor."