Developing a strategy—whether your goal is to control IT costs, improve IT services, or generate greater IT value—is only the first part of what your organization needs to consider in order to achieve its long-term goals. To be successful, you also need to have the right support and structure in-place to implement the strategy.
Structure helps to spread the news
An important aspect of implementing any strategy is being able to institutionalize it throughout the organization, so that daily actions are consistent with the long-term strategic direction. Having an internal structure that allows your strategy to permeate throughout the rank and file is an essential component of success, and is a central tenet of strategic management. Conversely, having an inappropriate internal structure can prevent or impede both the development and implementation of the strategies that you need to move forward.
IT departments can benefit from taking a page from the strategic management literature by structuring their organizations in a way that facilitates communication between everyone on the team. Any strategy being adopted should not surprise anyone in the organization, and it should inform everyone’s daily decisions, actions, and planning efforts. But what does an effective structure look like?
Structure groups the right people together
This is tricky because it depends on the strategy you wish to implement; however, most organization should follow some general guidelines.
1) The flatter the organization, the easier it is to communicate your strategy, but the harder it becomes to enforce and course-correct any misinterpretations.
2) Technical disciplines should be grouped together. For example, server technicians, architects, system administrators, and similar positions all need a central focal point.
3) Business functions should be grouped together. These include service management, IT asset management, business relationship management, financial management, and project management teams.
4) A high potential individual should act as an advisor to the CTO/CIO
Structure is tailored to what your organization does
Using these guiding principles, the structure for an organization where the IT department provides internal services would look something like this:
A more specialized or stove-piped organizational structure may be required if you are an IT-centric organization and your IT department provides services externally. For example, an outsourcing company would be structured very differently, perhaps something like this:
Regardless of the type of organization you have, the structure is extremely important to transmitting, interpreting, and then implementing any strategy. It is the same in IT. In fact, our experience suggests that structure makes the difference between a mid-performing team and a high-performing team.
Structure does the heavy lifting for you
Remember that the intent with structure is to allow decisions, actions and planning to be consistent with the strategy being implemented. That doesn’t mean you need to continually have it approved or validated by the strategic planning team. Once you have a structure in place that works for your organization, you will be well equipped to meet your long-term objectives.