Organizational strategic planning
Organizational structure is definitely influenced by the economy and industry trends. My current company used to have a standard departmental structure, but now we refer to everything at that level as a process and groups have been reorganized along process lines. As such, we have process owners and process champions instead of managers and supervisors; however individuals may be part of multiple processes within the organization. We call the IT department “Managing Information Services” for instance. These choices affected our organizational structure and in turn the global organization because we are a worldwide company. Trends set in the western culture, where most businesses are based effect businesses in those countries and then it ripples around the world. These two structure, what I consider the traditional model and then the process model each have their own pros and cons. The traditional model is more common and can make it easier when dealing with new people, whether new employees or within a relationship with another company.
This is a real concern, because we make a lot of acquisitions and the process based structure has a steep learning curve. The process based model appears more complex to the outsider, but in reality is more streamlined and efficient. Economic challenges are a partial driver for us in adapting to the process based structure initially, and they affect virtually all businesses. This is because even in a good economy, every business must seek optimum efficiency and profit. This is even more critical in lean time like the global economy is currently experiencing.
Involvement in system planning
The business or functional groups grow more and more dependent on the IT department and the CIO for not just technology, but also strategic business direction and process design. The modern IT department seems to be seen as a corporate brain trust. Organizations look to the CIO and IT department as a whole when making business decisions. In turn the CIO and IT department uses a needs gathering approach, taken from the standard project management model to understand and collect the business needs. These and any other IT decisions usually approved by or directed by the CIO or IT Manager are approved by an IT steering committee. Although some companies still have the CIO or IT Manager reporting to one person, like another C level executive, this is an outdated concept. The CIO or IT Manager should report to a technology steering group that is made up of all or most of the C level executives. One reason for this is that IT resources are limited and should be allocated by a group, rather than one person.
This keeps one executive from being tempted to have his or her projects made a priority. This is a control that should be put in place. New and emerging technologies also have an effect on the decision-making process of the steering group as consensus is desired from the group before new technologies are adopted and how and when those technologies are adopted. Many other factors affect the decision making processes, like any e-commerce, governance or regulation, or organization structure. Organizations can improve their decision-making process by adopting the steering committee if not already in use. Standard IT decision-making models include the centralized, federated, distributed, and Matrix models and hybrids, comprised of some combination of the four. The centralized model is a model where the central manager, like the CEO, has the predominant decision making power within a company or organization. This is an outdated model and is usually used in very small organizations. The federated model trades resources between groups and each group votes or decides whether or not to make a resource trade.
This model is best used as a hybrid with another model where core business functions are made by a central figure or steering group. The distributed model is basically a model of decision making where a group makes decisions. This model is often used for processes, like supply chain planning or scheduling. The matrix model is based on a series of predetermined answers that fit criteria. This is a “if x, then y, else z” approach to decision making and is used for certain business processes. One example would be that if paper stock gets below a certain level you can order more without any higher level approval. This model can also be used to logically narrow a list of available choices. In the typical company, many of these models are in use at the same time in various levels of the company or within core processes. Taken on the whole, most organizations employ a hybrid model that mixes these core models to meet the individual needs of the organization.
Security, privacy, and reliability are factors that impact a business’ reputation and also the design of any project. You need people on your team that are reliable; otherwise, you could find yourself in a legal battle or at least out a lot of money. As to the available work force, you need to be able to assess the skill levels of each team members and use them where they fit best. Weill & Ross, on the suggested strategy used to create a learning organization, offer this, “New governance mechanisms usually take time to master, but they are essential to a firm’s ability to promote desirable behavior and facilitate ongoing learning”. Controlling behavior is a big part of being a leader. Just like in the past when military leaders have used their skill to convince men to fight in battle, as a modern business leader, you must convince people to give their efforts to the good of the company.
Accountability is at the center of this, because the leader needs to bend his or her subordinates to his or her will, because the leader is ultimately responsible for the collective performance. The benefits of a learning organization in the implementation of the IT innovation or any task in IT go beyond assisting the leader in controlling or directing the company or department. A learning organization takes past experiences forward with them into future projects or future phases of a project and makes the company or organization more efficient and successful in the long run. A learning organization can make better decisions when choosing in-house implementation, hiring specialized consulting teams, and/or selecting complete outsourcing teams.