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I just read an article about integrating IT into the business units and dissolving IT as a stand-alone department. The article is at this URL:

http://www.itworldcanada.com/Pages/Docbase/ViewArticle.aspx?id=idgml-de79fbf7-5521-45c8&portal=e92e3ad5-e795-42e5-a1a7-2949dfb40789&sub=1535558

The problem with this stance is that it has a “one size fits all” mentality. The reason that IT’s role in an organization has flip-flopped through the years is that there are pros and cons to both if they are implemented as all or nothing choice. We must begin to mature our thinking about IT, especially in an economic downturn. There are cases where having some IT skill sets in the business departments makes sense, but completely dissolving IT loses the benefits of centralization. What really needs to change is not the organization, but the employees. We need Product Managers who also have a Business Analyst skillset. We need Project Managers who understand the business needs and the technical knowledge to bridge the communication gaps. Just having IT sit next to and report to business leaders is not enough. We need to start cross training employees to understand both worlds. Each will have their specialty, but they need a shared understanding of what the company needs to not only survive, but thrive.  Job descriptions need to be guidelines more than rules.  If a business employee has the interest and capacity to learn a technical new skill set, then they should be allowed to do so.  For that matter, IT skillsets should not be limited either.  The days of “I’m a DBA and that is all I do” need to be over.  DBA’s need to understand the data that they manage.  Server Admins need to understand the business applications that they impact.  Business leaders need to be involved in IT decisions, because if there is a risk to take in the implementation, they should be the one to take it.  Let’s call it “The Brave New World”!  Wait, that’s been taken.  How about just plain common sense.

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Why does it seem like the answer to an organizations problems is always a reorganization of the staff? Granted that there are times when a company needs to change the structure of their staff to better align with business requiremenets or customer needs, but I’ve been in an organization that restructured every year for four years in a row. You have to keep in mind that a reorg only changes the reporting structure. It is worth very little unless something much more critical is addressed as well, responsibilities. Most reorgs I have witnessed address the org orgchartchart and give a high level description of the groups new vision, then expect the lower level managers to fill in the details. The problem is that there is generally no continuity when this happens. Each well meaning managers interprets their new vision as they see fit and takes on responsibilities that he wants. This often leaves gaps between the groups and disagreements on ownership of issues. It is imperative that the executives that defined the vision of each group stay enagaged in the detailed definition of each groups role to ensure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. I believe that Executives underestimate their contribution and influence in changing times and too much communication is probably just right.

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