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Business Requirements First

The intent of the structure in Figure 13 is good, but it gets a huge DORG award. Not to be mean, because it's an understandable mistake, but because it's a very costly mistake for the company. This scenario usually occurs when the head of IT comes from the business unit.

Figure 13 Duplication of functions.

As an example, this structure would be supporting three distinct business units: manufacturing, HR, and finance. Each business unit would have a set of applications developers, usually one database administrator, and one system administrator. These are pretty much designed to be autonomous IT organizations. The intent is for the entire organization to work together, but in reality the priority and alliance is to the heads of manufacturing, HR, or finance. The operations box is the traditional centralized IT infrastructure support group.

The problems caused by this structure are enormous:

  • Lack of resources to properly implement systems management tools.

  • Senior system administrators spend 90% of their time on fire-fighting and daily problem resolution. They're left with only 10% of their time to plan, architect, and design the infrastructure that includes implementing system management solutions—for their own environment, not an enterprise solution. The goal should be 80% of their time spent on planning, architecting, and designing enterprise solutions for the entire infrastructure, and 20% for problem resolution.

  • Resources for only one level of support, not the three that are needed for system administration.

  • Lack of a centralized tape librarian function; each group handles its own tapes. There are very few (if any) procedures to assure integrity. This is extremely risky!

  • Lack of a centralized computer operations function; senior system administrators spend their time mounting tapes, monitoring systems/peripherals, etc. It's ludicrous for senior technicians to be wasting their time on such mundane tasks when they should be providing analysis on the latest and greatest technologies.

  • Lack of a formalized applications support team (that role is partly filled by developers, DBAs, and other individuals). Very little is formalized in the way of production support.

  • Lack of a production control function. Again, due to a lack of resources, this function doesn't exist, which means that production QA, process ownership, and second-level support structures are nonexistent.

  • Help desk not structured properly within the organization. It should be structured at the enterprise level and given the authority to own problem management.

  • Organization is structured within silos focusing on particular technologies.

  • Career development for UNIX and database technical support staff is almost impossible.

  • Lack of processes.

  • General lack of discipline throughout the infrastructure.

  • Finger-pointing between the centralized IT operations staff and the autonomous groups.

  • Inadequate teamwork and communication.

In future articles, I'll discuss the appropriate organization structures to effectively support your computing environment.

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