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Hyderabad, India
Delivery Excellence - Business Management IT Organization
April 10, 2010
T
he business of IT is to fulfill the needs of the company's business. As such, the business of IT can be successfully conducted as long as the IT organization is well-connected and in touch with the company's business. This connection usually occurs at a very high level (Director or above) within the IT organization. However, it is often lost in transition from higher to lower levels. At the grassroots’ level of an IT organization, I often noticed a wide gap between the IT folks and the business folks. Such a gap often leads to IT folks misunderstanding, misinterpreting, misrepresenting or even altogether missing some key business needs. This, in turn, leads to IT fulfilling some "business" needs (optimistically speaking) that the business cannot actually use. It also often leads to IT Project Managers more tightly holding on to the "triple constraints" (or the golden triangle of schedule, scope, cost) than is beneficial to the business. After all, a successful delivery must ensure business benefit, usability, affordability, and timeliness (even if it means that certain compromises have to be made on the traditional triple constraints.
IT’s Business Management/Unit (BMO/BUIT) Organization is designed to mitigate, avoid, or even eliminate the risk of IT being out of touch with the business. A strong BMO/BUIT lives within the IT organization and yet acts as a liaison between the IT and the business community. The higher levels of this organization are in touch with business strategy and customers' senior management on one hand, and in touch with IT Strategy and Delivery on the other. At the lower levels, they are connected with the customer and market analysts on one hand, and IT analysts, developers, testers and Operations personnel on the other.
Business Management Orginaztion Structure
Consider the organizational structure shown in the picture.
Implementing such an organization involves three steps – identify, (re)align, (re)define. Depending on the available talent pool, it may also include hiring new personnel, training existing personnel, creating new positions and/or eliminating existing positions that no longer serve the organizational needs.
  1. Identify business subject matter experts within the IT organization and align them along vertical lines that they have most expertise in (and are most motivated/interested in).
  2. Create logical groupings based on either business focus/applications, customers, customer types, or a combination (sub-portfolios) and bring them under the leadership of appropriately able managers
  3. Each of these verticals will be owned by a Line of Business Director who is charged with providing overall direction and policy that governs this particular Line of Business.
Finally, the entire Business Management Office reports into the VP of Business Management.
Keep in mind, however, that such a large (and complex) org structure may be an overkill in quite a few cases (especially for a smaller company). Any of these roles can be eliminated, or kept vacant until such time that the company grows large enough to warrant such a structure.
Responsibility Matrix
Business Analysts
  • Levels 1 through 5 depending on the company
  • Gather and/or analyze/clarify business requirements
  • Translate into application-specific functional requirements/specifications for easy understanding and implementation of the developers and test teams
  • Review technical design and specifications mapping them to business requirements
  • Review test specifications mapping them to the business requirements
Sr. Managers, Business Portfolio
  • First escalation point for all business issues and needs
  • Co-own and build the vertical IT business relationship with specific customers and internal IT relationships, for their particular BUIT
  • Responsible for defining delivery success criteria for a specific customer or group of customers
Directors, Lines of Business
  • Second escalation point for all business issues and needs
  • Represents business interests on the Business Unit Advisory Board (or a SLT Steering Committee)
  • Co-Own and build overall vertical IT business relationship across all customers and internal IT relationships for the vertical
  • Define overall customer engagement strategy for the particular vertical
  • Develop and propose new business strategies for the verticals
VP, Business Management
  • Third and final escalation point across all verticals for the company
  • Co-Owns and builds overall corporate IT relations with external businesses
  • Defines corporate customer engagement strategy
  • Decides on new business proposals, mergers, company direction, strategy, and exploring new market opportunities
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