Almost since the first IT Department was set up, enterprise IT organisations have been organised into functional disciplines; networks, infrastructure, service desk, architecture, business analysis, project management, application development, application support and governance. While this model has traditionally been very effective, in the digital world of agility and fast-moving business responsiveness, a new organisational approach is required for IT; IT-As-A-Service.
IT organisations are transforming, adapting to the new digital world, by embracing the concepts of Agile and DevOps, delivering change quicker than ever, reacting to ever changing business requirements.
Is this transformation enough though? Just because you are delivering change quicker than ever, does it increase the customer value that is being provided by the business?
Not necessarily. We’re in the midst of a technological revolution, where the expectations of business stakeholders coupled, with commoditisation and consumerisation of cloud technologies, has transformed the demand that has typically driven the classic functional perspective of IT.
IT has always been a shared service that is delivered to a business that funds it and pays its wages, it’s just that IT departments and the people working in them rarely seem to appreciate that fact. Even now a lot of IT departments are working on the premise that they know what is best for their users and the business, based on the fact that they are IT users as well.
Traditional IT governance methods, project management, demand processes, road-mapping requirements, budgeting cycles, and organisational structures, focusing on cost-effectively providing services instead of focusing on the value for the business/end user, all of which contribute to the stifling of innovation and increased business frustration.
Even now business units have to feed into a demand cycle, justifying what they want, so budget and resources can be assigned, only for IT to deliver something, often a lot later, that doesn’t even match what was originally requested, and certainly doesn’t meet the current requirements.
Either that, or IT departments end up just delivering something to the business, that doesn’t really match what they want. How many times has IT delivered a PC refresh programme, which, on the face of it is a good thing, only for the devices be locked down to such a degree that they can’t be used effectively.
Of course, cost, quality, reliability and stability are still important, but these are now secondary issues to the demand for business value and the greater throughput and agility at which IT can make changes to enable the business needs.
With the advent of the Cloud, Agile methods and the consumerisation of technology, it has become so much easier for businesses to source their IT needs from alternative sources. This can frequently appear to be a cheaper option than obtaining them from their own internal IT departments. Certainly, allows the business unit to have far more control over their IT.
It’s no wonder that businesses are often dissatisfied with the service that they receive from their IT department, and start to do things themselves. Something that IT departments call “Shadow IT”, but business units think of as “just getting what I need”, because they don’t get it from their IT organisation.
IT departments should look at how they can reorganise to better meet the demands of their business, embracing new ways of working, tightly aligning themselves to business needs and outcomes, providing the flexibility to allow business users to more quickly adopt functionality and allow their users to scale their consumption to use.
The new IT organisation should be aligned to providing IT-As-A-Service to the business, based on these basic precepts;
- Construct the organisation on business, or service, lines instead of functional disciplines, with a direct reporting line into stakeholders in the business
- Create resourced and budgeted persistent teams that have end-to-end, cross-functional responsibility for servicing the business needs. This isn’t just having a business relationship liaison, this is about embedding the whole team with responsibility for delivering the business needs.
- Provide the cross-functional teams with the responsibility for assembling the optimal components (whether they be Cloud, DevOps, outsourcing, internal) and aligning them with the business needs and make them as responsive as possible. There is more value in assembling the components against the business value and responsiveness than there is in handling the functional disciplines of managing the individual components.
- The IT Shared Services teams providing infrastructure, networks and end-user computing become suppliers of services, competing with other third parties that provide these standard, market-based components.
- The other functions of architecture, service management, PMO and security are focused on providing the frameworks within which the cross-functional teams operate, working as enablers for the business rather than inhibitors of innovation.
- Change the method of measuring the effectiveness of the service being provided to one based on business outcomes and speed of delivery rather than cost.
You don’t have to realign the whole IT organisation to a business focused, IT-As-A-Service one in a single leap. It is possible to make the move in slow and steady steps, initially aligning some of the most business critical, key services as cross-functional business facing teams, while maintaining the rest of the organisation in the traditional shared-services structure.
The key message is that IT departments need to recognise that the business that they are there to serve has moved on. There are a lot more varied ways that a business can obtain IT services, rather than just relying on its own internal IT department. A business needs to be able to react, innovate and change in order to remain competitive. If an IT department is not able to adjust to these demands in a way that is acceptable to the business, then the business now has the means to source its IT elsewhere.
Changing to an IT-As-A-Service model allows an IT department to remain relevant to the business and the customers that it serves.
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