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10/24/2007
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Tips For Assessing Your IT Organization For A Restructuring

Since reviews are time-consuming and disruptive, CIOs should have strong justification for wanting to shake things up, suggests a Forrester Research report.

Sooner or later changes -- big and small -- need to be considered for the IT organization, and having a few key points in mind can help ease the pain of CIOs and others making assessments about the sort of transformation that's needed.

There are several common reasons why companies contemplate a re-org of the IT organization. But before implementing those changes, there needs to be an assessment of the IT organization's formal and informal structure, processes, staffing, and culture, said Marc Cecere, a Forrester Research VP and principle analyst and author of a new report entitled, Assessing Your IT Organization.

Why do companies consider restructuring their IT organizations? The top reasons include having a new CIO, contemplating outsourcing, a need to better align the business with IT, a desire to cut costs, and trying to optimize things that already seem to be working well, said Cecere.

"Some companies are doing ok, but the CIO wants to assess how they stack up with other companies," he said.

However, assessments of the IT organization are time-consuming and disruptive, especially because they often require participation from managers and staff throughout the company, so CIOs should have strong justification for wanting to shake things up, said Cecere.

When word gets out about a possible restructuring of the IT organization, the IT team will surely become anxious and worried, he said. "People worry and wonder 'who will I work for, will I be outsourced?'," said Cecere. So, it's important that the time spent planning an assessment is short and implementing changes is done incrementally, he said.

That's because people are often more anxious about uncertainty than they are about actual change. If they know and understand what changes are coming, they are more apt to come to terms with that transformation.

"It takes a long time to assess a 1,000 person organization," said Cecere. So, it's better to make changes in steps, such as first naming and identifying the duties of the CIO and other leaders, such as the CIO's direct reports, the heads of IT infrastructure and architecture, and so on, he said.

"Once the troops get to know who'll be leading them, the uncertainty is less disruptive," he said.

Another important tip is to keep communication strong. The CIO and others leading a transformation should identify the people who need to be in-the-know, make sure they understand the message, and keep them in the loop, he said.

Finally, while customers -- including users -- should be involved with assessments, such as providing input about what's working and not working with the IT organization, they should not have the power of approving changes, said Cecere.

For instance, a customer can make recommendation about how the IT team needs to be more innovative, but the customer should not have control over how the team is restructured to become more innovative, he said.

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