In many organisations there are some technology systems which are not managed by the main I.T. team.
Often these are small, specialist systems which are looked after by the departments which own them. The reasons for having this type of arrangement are usually historical, and sometimes they work quite well – especially where specific technical knowledge is needed;for example a complex manufacturing or medical system. Also, the local user community benefits from having their own IT resource, who can respond quickly and provide a high level of support.
The problem with devolved I.T. teams, however, becomes evident when there is a major problem, and that’s when the main I.T. Team, with their knowledge and experience, are often called to help out.
Apart from the delay in getting things fixed (which invariably happens when multiple parties are involved), this is irritating and confusing for the end-users, who don’t know who they should escalate their query to.
To the average person, I.T. is either working or it isn’t, and there’s a very good argument that they shouldn’t have to worry about where the service boundaries between different departments are.
My own view is that it’s much simpler if all I.T. systems are managed by a single I.T. Team. That way they can be supported, developed and integrated properly, and accountability is clear.
I’m a great believer in centralisation – having all services under one roof so that it’s clear to everyone who is responsible for them. It also means that all systems can be subject to the same operational processes, such as change control. I.T. is becoming so complex these days, that standardised procedures (based on ITIL, ideally) are an essential part of I.T. operations.
Needless to say, centralisation is most cost-effective way to run I.T. (or any other corporate service, for that matter), and with pressure on budgets, I suspect that many of these devolved I.T. arrangements will be seen as an unaffordable luxury.
If the local staff are brought into the I.T. Teams, then it’s win/win; they get to work in a formal I.T.environment, and the I.T. Team gains valuable knowledge and experience about the business systems. The stakeholders with the most to gain though, are the users – no more confusion about who is actually providing support.