State of IT Management
Streamlining IT Management
As a CIOs role becomes more important, so does that
of the IT team. by Deepali Gupta
|Streamlining IT Management
As the CIO has gone from
being the team leader of a support function to a decision-maker, IT
teams have formed a definite structure that ensures the ownership of responsibilities.
A streamlined and cohesive
IT team can be the backbone of an enterprise.
Last year we dedicated our lead story to the Changing
Role of the CIO. Through the year, we have communicated to you that the
CIO has moved from a function head to a strategic head. However, little has
been said about the dynamics that IT teams have been subjected to.
IT teams continue to be nuclear, for 63 percent of organisations team
strength is under 25 people. A bit over half the organisations surveyed anticipate
that their teams will either stay the same or shrink. This is surprisingas
businesses grow, shouldnt there be a greater need for IT staff?
For instance, at Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), the management has assigned
the final responsibility of IT projects to business heads. Says Satish Pendse,
CIO, HCC, At each of our project sites, we have IT co-ordinators who provide
IT support to the site, apart from doing their other responsibilities. Respective
heads of departments take up the responsibility of implementation and roll-out.
In HCCs system, the IT co-ordinator is from the IT department
and the project ownership belongs to the departmental (business) head. This
approach is a great way of working around a small IT team, as it ensures user
buy-in at every stage of an implementation. This leads to easy adoption.
Teams may be shrinking, but hierarchy and levels of growth for IT staff seem
rosier than they did some years ago. Today the presence of IT starts right from
the top as CIOs are involved in board meetings and strategic decision-making.
Almost 50 percent of the time, the CIO has the final say in
IT decisions. Unlike in the past where everyone was a systems analyst, and there
was one project leader (now called CIO) who reported to the CFO, or some subsection
of the business, todays IT teams have a definite hierarchy that starts
with the CIO. Two or three senior members report to this person. A large part
of the IT team can be classified as middle management. 43 percent of new employees
who will be hired this fiscal will be for this slice of the IT team.
IT is important, but is it valuable?
- 77 percent of respondents consider technical
skills as the strength of the IT team.
- Lack of agility is deemed as an impediment
by 16 percent.
- IT is viewed as a strategic asset by 30
- 52 percent of organisations measure IT
investment in relation to a projects completion on time.
- For about 50 percent of IT-related decision-making,
the CIOs word is final.
Assigning ownership of IT projects to business function heads
may be the formula for some successful deployments as the senior management
of 44 percent of respondents believe that IT is a necessary expense. This nonchalant
attitude towards IT is also reflected in the criteria used to measure IT investment.
The most popular way to do so is whether or not a project was completed on time,
and whether customer satisfaction improved.
This is perhaps why budgeting is a problem among IT teams. 52 percent of respondents
see cost constraints as a weakness of the IT department. Nevertheless, many
agree that some additional costs in the IT department are cleared on as needed
basis. Fortunately a fair number (30 percent) of respondents say that their
senior management believes that IT investment is strategic.
Boon or bane
Ironically, the ready availability of people in this field is both a boon and
a bane depending on how you view it. The edge India has over the rest
of the world is because of readily-available manpower. Finding people possessing
the right skill sets and keeping these updated is the trick, explains
M D Agrawal, Chief Manager, IS Refinery, BPCL. A concern that a number of senior
managers have expressed is that even if someone familiar with contemporary technology
is recruited, he may be unable to cope with the flood of new technologies washing
over ITs shores.
Training is a possible solution to that problem, but not everyone
is open to learning. Besides, the motivation of an IT team depends on the way
that they are perceived and treated by the rest of the organisation. For that,
users must also adapt to new technologies.
Things to watch For
Two situations can make or break IT management. The first is all about how knowledgeable
the senior management is across functions. The second is the rapport that exists
between team members and end-users. With these two in place, organisations can
develop focussed and well-organised IT teams that will function as a backbone
for the company.
Deeepali Gupta can be reached at email@example.com