IT Organizational Structures – CIO to CIO

What is the best approach to your IT organizational structure? Is it having a flat organizational structure, smaller individually focused teams, a centralized or decentralized structure?

To begin to answer that question, CIOs need to first take a hard look at the business objectives and structure of the overall company – highly dispersed locations vs. a few locations, international vs. domestic, large amounts of M&A activity, centralized architecture and platforms vs. disparate.

Then examine the company’s culture. Understanding the culture is important in implementing a governance process that maintains business alignment and client support for IT. Governance can take many forms, so a CIO must implement a structure that will work in his/her environment. Militant centralization in a disbursed organization, or vice versa, can be a very negative experience for everyone. This is an important point to understand.

Being able to scale up (grow and prosper) or scale down (shrink and survive) in a timely and effective way is a good sign of a healthy business. An IT organization should also follow the same structure.  A structure should be able to scale up or shrink to meet changing business cycles. An IT structure that is not shrinking with the business will not be look upon favorably.

In my career, my success came from implementing small focused teams located close to the business units/managers as possible. I would organize my teams around required disciplines (BA/SA/DEV) with support form other teams (DBA/QA). This structure allows the team to leverage the knowledge/skills of each team member and allows them to fully understand the business they are supporting. A siloed structure has a tendency to lead to “generalists” that may not be as effective and efficient as the focused team.

I believe that the solution needs to fit the problem. The circumstances of the company, cultures, timing of the business cycle, etc. all influenced what is most effective.


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