Aug 03 2012

Why IT Departments Need to Think Smaller

It’s not about doing more with less, it’s about doing more in different, faster ways.

In the developer world, many programmers have latched on to the agile method, which produces faster, shorter, consistent software-development cycles. These short bursts of productivity allow developers to move more nimbly and get more work done, since they’re no longer tied to waiting for the six-week or monthly software release.

Gartner group vice president Mark P. McDonald argues, in a post on the Gartner Blog, that it’s time for IT to think small in a similar way.

Many IT departments started out oversized and bloated. There were too many devices and employees, and there was too much cost. So CIOs and IT managers shifted from what McDonald calls Large IT to Medium IT. He explains the difference between the two in more detail here:

Medium IT is medium in the sense that the IT organization attempts to do everything it did in the large model, but at a cheaper rate. If you have ever spoken the words “more for less” then you have participated in the super re-sizing of IT. Medium IT is the domain of IS-LITE and LEAN IT where organizations seek to do everything that they did before only for less money.

The problem is Medium IT is no more sustainable than Large IT. The only way to make it sustainable is to think of IT as a generic commodity that is managed by concerns of cost, scope and quality.

So if Medium IT is just doing Large IT with a smaller budget, what is Small IT? According to McDonald, Small IT breaks the focus on cost and turns toward doing small, specific tasks better.

Here are the key initiatives he says organizations that want to become Small IT shops should focus on:

  • Creating value through what you produce and how you produce it rather than controlling service costs or resources
  • Creating results rather than managing activities
  • Raising IT’s strategic contribution
  • Moving the IT organization from being a monolith to a mosaic
  • Gaining the new skills needed for the future
  • Embracing lighter-weight technologies and their implications
  • Generating a greater yield on information and technology resources

An IT organization that shifts from a focus on budget to one about services, business goals and efficiencies is one that’s truly poised to succeed in the new consumerized enterprise of today.