Technology Assessment & Planning

Securing Budget to Erase Technical Debt

Our Client

Our client is a leading national multi-channel retailer and online destination for value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, toys, school supplies, and other merchandise.

Transformation Challenge

The new CIO was working to align the executive team and his IT leadership team, who were more focused on reducing IT spend than thinking strategically about technology investments. To help achieve the company’s revenue growth goals of nearly 20% year-over-year, a comprehensive review and realignment of the IT strategy was necessary to ensure that ongoing IT investment helped drive sales. Thought Ensemble was brought in to help the client examine and transform the way the organization invested in IT in order to continue to meet the demands of the e-commerce platform.

Our Approach

We performed a holistic assessment of our client’s IT organization with a focus on developing a strategy to meet their new needs. We gathered feedback from stakeholders, analyzed their IT budget and spend, performed a health and suitability assessment of their existing technology portfolio, reviewed their delivery model, and assessed their organizational structure. Diving into the financials, we were able to highlight opportunities for reducing their “keeping-the-lights-on” spend (e.g., renegotiating contracts) and smoothing out their infrastructure refresh spending through proactive maintenance and planning.

Our assessment of the client’s technology revealed significant technical debt across their portfolio. Incorporating stakeholder feedback, and financial analysis, we prioritized the effort to replace their systems and developed a roadmap to guide their effort to increase the business suitability and technical health of their applications.

In the end, we recommended two key actions: create a separate architecture function and invest more in talent management. By separating architecture into its own function, our client is now able to dedicate resources to ensuring standardization and consistency across the technology portfolio. By focusing on talent management, they can now hire external talent to fill gaps and also provide a path forward for their existing employees to deepen their current skills and learn new ones.


By fine-tuning how our client’s IT department spent money, some of the existing budget was reallocated to where it was truly needed: addressing their growing technical debt. The roadmap we developed laid out the path to refresh their infrastructure in a timely manner, as well as be ahead of future system replacement efforts. Our experience and credibility related to technology strategies allowed us to have meaningful conversations with the execs that challenged their preconceived ways of thinking about technology. In addition, the organization assessment helped highlight the need for additional skills in both the short-term and longer-term.

Ultimately, by combining the various facets of our analysis, the CIO was able to reallocate some of their budget to help fund execution against the new roadmap, as well as grow their headcount by approximately 10% to address critical skill gaps. This allowed the organization to continue dedicating money and effort to ensuring its e-commerce platform was robust and able to support the aggressive revenue growth goals.