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First Annual DORG (Disastrous Organization) Awards

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Harris Kern presents DORG (disastrous organization) awards to these common IT infrastructures that not only don't solve problems--they actually create them.
Placing special emphasis on a comprehensive approach combining organization, people, process, and technology, Harris Kern's Enterprise Computing Institute is recognized as one of the world's premier sources for CIOs and IT professionals concerned with managing information technology.
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After doing over 100 infrastructure assessments with Fortune 1000 companies, the severity and number of organizational related issues were a big surprise to me and others with whom I discussed this subject. Without a doubt, it's the biggest problem with network computing, and deserves top billing. The problems with the IT infrastructure support and infrastructure development organizations are overwhelming—not to mention mind-boggling—especially because so many of them are directly or indirectly affected by the organization structure.

The DORG (disaster organization) award is a designation I give to organizations that have intrinsic problems caused by the way they're structured and the limitations they place on the people in the organization. This article describes the way that many organizations are structured today, and freely hands out DORG awards.

Current Organizational Structures

The organizational structure shown in Figure 1 is my personal favorite and receives the first DORG.

Figure 1 The infrastructure split in half.

Splitting the infrastructure in half between development (implementing processes and technology) and support (that's production supportÑfull-time problem resolution) is by far the worst structure I've seen. It causes the following issues:

  • Security privileges are shared. Security privileges on production machines can NEVER be shared between infrastructure groups.

  • Why would any senior technician want to provide production support rather than test and implement the latest and greatest technology?

  • Responsibilities overlap when the organization is split.

  • It's difficult to turn over projects to support, especially since these projects were initiated and implemented in other organizations.

  • Problem management becomes difficultÑpeople go to the expert for faster resolution.

  • Duplication of system management efforts.

  • Communication issues are worse than before.

  • Cross-training constraints.

  • Resource constraints.

You can tell that this idea came from someone in management whose career didn't evolve from the bowels of the data center, or from someone who never headed up a large infrastructure group. If you've been in the industry and had the opportunity to know at least a handful of IT shops, you know that an increasing number of IT executives are appointed to their posts because top management thinks they've done well in other parts of the company. The net effect is that while IT requirements are growing dramatically, some IT executives lack the expertise to really know how an IT organization works.

But the thought behind this structure had some merit. The IT executives knew they had to focus on implementing processes and tools for their computing environment, but they forgot about the biggest and most important part of the equationÑthe people aspect. If you were a technical person, what would you like your role to be labeled: Production Support or Infrastructure Development? I'll answer that one for you. All technical personnel would rather play with the latest widget and gadget than provide around-the-clock support.

There should be a happy medium, and the answer is simple: Have just one infrastructure organization, structured to provide three levels of technical support. This should be done for the network, desktop, and data center. The following list identifies the three levels of support and the percentage of time required for each of the major job functions.

  • Level 1

    • 80% monitoring

    • 20% problem resolution

  • Level 2

    • 75% problem resolution

    • 25% architecture development and technology analysis

  • Level 3

    • 80% architecture development and technology analysis

    • 20% problem resolution

I recommend that you have one infrastructure group. Say no more.

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