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Key signs it may be time to restructure your IT department

Key signs it may be time to restructure your IT department

North AmericaThought LeadershipTop Stories

Georgia-based Eric Lefebvre, CTO at Sovos, discusses how CIOs can look out for signs that a company’s IT department may need restructuring.

Eric Lefebvre, CTO at Sovos

Recognizing the warning signs that your department needs a change is critical to executing your firm’s transformations and overall vision.

As a CIO working to fulfill your organization’s priorities to meet business goals in the current economic scenario, you may not always be able to immediately identify or even want to acknowledge the signs that your IT department is in need of organizational restructuring.

However, these problems will not go away on their own. Fixing the problems takes leadership, determination, and the conviction to act. Here are four signs every CIO should be on the lookout for:

Can’t keep up with the demands of the market 

The current environment that CIOs are living in is unavoidably demanding. Not only is meeting the changing demands of the market important for your organization, but also exceeding them as transformations are simultaneously being put into effect can have lasting effects on your organization’s objectives and goals if not handled properly.

Being unable to keep up with the demands of your industry can look different depending on your organization’s structure. The fight for talent continues despite double digit reductions at companies across the industry. Project costs are rising as the cost of labor has exploded and attrition can put you behind schedule. Third party software costs and renewals are more expensive than planned, and technology debt continues to pile up fast.  

Dedicating your department’s attention on the factors discussed above in the competitive industry in which you reside, your team might fall short when it comes to timely deliverables and helping maintain your organization’s tech stack and guide its business transformations. 

Delays have become common 

Executing your organization’s transformations is a significant objective for your department and where an immense amount of time is spent working to create budgets, objectives, and timelines for the projects your team is involved in, they need to be met.

Hindering the development of any business transformation is never ideal, especially if your department is at fault for delays in timelines, rearranging budgets or lack of innovation. This also creates a vicious cycle of perceived value for tech headcount or spend, especially in light of today’s macroeconomic environment. We’re all looking to operate more efficiently and deliver on our promises. 

Your IT department is immersed in many different aspects of your organization’s business transformations, so meeting these timelines, respecting budgets, and continuing to innovate is critical to your business’ operational plans. When delays become commonplace for your team and external factors are affecting your department’s ability to execute projects, restructuring your IT department may be your solution. 

It takes a village

Organizations grow during the good times and responsibilities often get diluted as a result. When it comes to the point that you as a leader need to bring in multiple leaders to make a decision, resolve an issue, or define a roadmap for a particular part of the business, it may be time to assess span of control within the organization.

Too many people involved in too many decisions will cripple your ability to pivot quickly and respond. This can contribute to the delays noted above or worse, finger pointing and short fuses as noted below.

Clarifying functions, boundaries and the leaders entrusted with oversight of those areas will not only provide organizational clarity but make your team more efficient. Take a simple example such as the deployment of a release. How many teams are listed on the change record? How many tasks per team are on the implementation plan?

Multiple handoffs are inefficient and if responsibilities span multiple directs, there’s always the risk of conflicting releases for the staff supporting resulting in canceled releases or eleventh-hour prioritization calls. Move staff within the business to create joint accountability and a true team identity and see their productivity increase and conflicts reduced. 

Underlying conflict

All departments thrive in a harmonious working environment, there’s no denying that. But an organizational design with underlying issues can become a constant source of friction for your organization. When it comes to obtaining the best results for your business, having an IT department that lives in conflict can lead to less-than-ideal results when it comes to the success of your tech transformations.

An organizational design that attempts to work through issues, staffing and investment issues can continue to produce and innovate if they can all row together, but in this environment, the results coming from the department will inevitably and predictably be sub-optimal. It’s no different than API contracts today or the Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) of the past, role clarity and organizational boundaries can often alleviate cross team friction and create a more inclusive working environment for all involved. 

Having a solid understanding of the environment in which your department works, provides guidance on how to best structure your organization and the ability to drill down to the next levels of detail. Working with your team shouldn’t be difficult when you’re working in such a complex industry, by eliminating internal conflict within your department you can better lead your team to produce more optimal outcomes.

Assuming you, as the CIO, have provided the vision and long-term strategy with clear goals and objectives, your talent needs to be able to execute effectively. The best results don’t happen by accident, they are the by-product of good planning, strong leadership and a team with the motivation and capabilities to produce high levels of quality output.

If internal issues in your department are spilling over and affecting the productivity of your team it may be time for restructuring. Whether it be the incapability to meet the demands of the market, a department that is struggling with productivity and consistently creating delays, you’re stuck in too many meetings with too many people, or working in a department that lives in conflict, these can all jeopardize your department’s functionality when it comes to achieving your organization’s goals. As leaders we owe it to our people to provide clarity and remove barriers to their success. 

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