Making IT Work in Your Company, Part 3

Editor’s note: This is the final part of a three-part column on strategies for making

IT work in the enterprise. Part 1 focused on trends shaping IT organizations and how IT should enhance

evolving business models. Part 2 outlined an approach to IT organizational alignment.

In the third and final part of this column on IT/business alignment, we conclude our

“open letter” to your company’s business and IT community – begun in Part 2 – by detailing how services, alternative funding mechanisms and, yes, people

play a role in an effective organizational alignment.


The central IT organization should organize itself to provide sets of ongoing and

special (temporary) services organized in some specific ways.

Business strategies should drive the whole process. Business strategies (which must

be clarified and validated) developed by the lines of business lead to lines of

business IT strategies which, in turn, provide input to the enterprise IT strategy

(defined as services).

These services represent the specific services that the lines of business (as clients)

would accept, reject or modify, as appropriate, and include such activities as

desk-top, laptop and PDA management, data center management, communications

management, applications management and security management.


  • In order to deliver the above services and build the kind of relationships with

    the divisions that will benefit the company, the central IT organization needs to

    organize itself adaptively.

  • Alternative funding mechanisms should be explored, separating day-to-day

    operational expenses from infrastructure investments. While traditional charge-back

    mechanisms can be used to pay for day-to-day operational expenses and — via a

    built-in cushion — some infrastructure reinvestment, there should also be a central

    fund for major investments. This fund can be generated via a corporate tax or via new

    allocations from the enterprise. Incentives should be created for the lines of

    business to invest directly or indirectly in infrastructure investments and


  • In addition, those activities that the enterprise considers to be of great

    importance should be centrally funded if the businesses are unlikely to fund the

    activity. A prime example is business resumption planning and disaster recovery.

    Other activities – like process improvement, end to end planning, and related

    ‘disciplines’ – often go un-funded by the businesses. If the enterprise considers

    such activities to be of great importance, and the incentives to invest at the lines

    of business level are inadequate, then the enterprise should (a) change the incentives

    or (b) fund the activity centrally.

  • A core competency analysis should be conducted for the purpose of determining

    which support services should be provided by in-house personnel and which should be

    provided by outside consultants and vendors. Economies of scale, efficiencies of

    operations, expertise considerations and an overall core competency assessment should

    drive decisions about what to do in-house and what to outsource.

  • Industry trends are clear, however: many companies are stripping out those

    activities that dilute their missions and are enhancing those activities that

    represent the core or essence of their business. Moreover, the pace of technology

    change, the obsolescence of skills, and the volatility of the industry all suggest

    that alternatives that permit us to move quickly should be explored.

  • We should adopt a life cycle-based approach to insourcing/outsourcing options.
  • We should monitor industry trends to determine when to move to hybrid or

    outsourced IT products and services. For example, in 1990 very few organizations

    outsourced their help desks, while by 2000 nearly 70% of all Fortune 1000 companies

    outsourced some help desk activities (with the trend expected to grow dramatically).

    Industry trends are important to monitor because they reflect the maturity and

    cost-effectiveness of products and services.

  • We should select the right insourcing/outsourcing model depending on the


  • — In-source when the tasks involve requirements –> specification –> and design –

    and when in-house expertise is deep and available.

    — Outsource implementation via complete and “transitional” outsourcing models where

    there is a high potential for “knowledge and process transfer” and where the transfer

    area is a targeted core competency.

    — Outsource when the target is at the back end of the life cycle, when the prospects

    for knowledge transfer are low, and when the area is not – and should not become — a

    core competency.

  • There are also options surrounding the ownership of hardware and other computing

    assets. Emerging trends indicate that an increasingly number of organizations are

    leasing computing equipment of all kinds. Leasing versus buying options should be

    analyzed thoroughly and often.

  • The Program Office should address the opportunities and risks associated with

    outsourcing (among other issues). Once decisions have been made, the PO should

    coordinate vendor support.

  • Investments in the right personnel are critical to success. As we move toward a

    pure service model, organizational decisions, and decisions about insourcing &

    outsourcing, and our need for the ‘right’ talent will rise dramatically.

  • Our needs will migrate from mainframe-based programming to client/server and

    network-centric systems integration and then inevitably to the Internet as our

    primary communications and computing platform. Skillsets will have to be enhanced in

    systems integration, architecture design, and project/program management to make this

    journey successful.