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How To Build An Effective IT Organization

In my experience, many IT departments fail simply because they have not been properly organized. Here are the essential components to an effective IT organization.

Infrastructure Support - you will need a dedicated team of system experts and engineers to support the technical environment, preferably under a single director. The quantity (but not the quality!) of individuals required depends on how much your company or institution relies on the cloud or other off-site computing services.

Security - you will need a dedicated individual, preferably a team of individuals, who focus on nothing but information security. Keeping patches up to date, monitoring web traffic for threats, managing complex antivirus and antimalware deployments. It’s not a “second job” for the infrastructure team, but requires its own focus and leadership. The implications of ignoring or minimizing this part of IT can be disastrous, as in total business shutdown.

Enterprise Applications Support - you will need a team of creative business analysts and developers working under an energetic director who can maximize your investment in enterprise software to run the business operation. The roles change a bit depending on how much your company or institution relies on SaaS or cloud based solutions. Generally, the more “off premise” an organization is, the higher the skill level required of the applications support staff - not necessarily as programmers or technical developers, but as business analysts and project managers.

Customer Service Support - you will need a dedicated team of technicians and customer service experts working under a director to provide end-user/end-point support across the organization. Sometimes this is done through a traditional “Help Desk” with a call center. More modern operations make use of chat, mobile, and virtual communications technology. You will also need an ability, whether in house or contracted, to directly and physically support hardware across the organization - labs, printers, workstations, laptops, tablets, mobile devices. An IT organization often lives or dies by the perceived quality of its service to internal customers.

Project Management - you will need to have formalized project management in place, preferably through a dedicated office. IT projects are enormously complex undertakings, and it is no longer wise or acceptable to leave the planning, management, and execution of these projects in the hands of amateurs. PMI certified individuals are preferred.

"Front Office" Support - on a college campus, this is the area where IT directly supports the academic mission of the institution, through instructional design services, support for online and classroom technology, and student technology support. While it is essentially “where the rubber meets the road”, it is an area fraught with risk as boundaries and responsibilities are often not clear, leading to turf wars and conflict. This situation can be significantly mitigated by elevating the CIO to the President’s Cabinet and as a direct report to the CEO.

There’s a lot more to all of this! I haven’t even begun to talk about staffing, reporting lines, or the org chart and how the Office of the CIO is the focal point. I am also describing a traditional IT organization. There are other models that can be more effective for innovative organizations leveraging digital technology across multiple lines of business. To learn more, feel free to contact me for a private consultation.

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