Leadership

Poll: Is your IT department centralized or decentralized?

It is one of the timeless debates of IT: centralization vs. decentralization. Take this TechRepublic poll to chime in whether you consider your IT department to be centralized or decentralized.

It is one of the timeless debates of IT: centralization vs. decentralization. Take this TechRepublic poll to chime in whether you consider your IT department to be centralized or decentralized.

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Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

9 comments
dkerta
dkerta

Core system - Centralize Supporting system - decentralize (country specific) Wide are network - centralize Local infrastructure support - decentralize hardware procurement - centralize Office automation - decentralize Business analyst - decentralize

sjanke
sjanke

If you would have asked me about 6 months ago, I would have answered Centralized, but we are on a very fast moving pendulum. Yikes!!! HOLD ON.

ernestm
ernestm

Our IT department is mostly centralized, though there are some teams that are largely "farmed out" to a business unit and business units (rarely, and just a couple) have hired some techies themselves. It works... OK. In the "most centralized" teams, like the back end infrastructure teams, they are hidebound and unresponsive to the needs of the internal customers. We're considering reorganizing them out of their technology stack centric teams into some other structure for this reason. In the "most decentralized" teams, they are business aligned and surge forward with implementation, often not following important standards and releasing "junk" software that makes everyone's lives harder. So we try to rein these in. Our most happy mediums seem to be teams that are aligned with a business unit, like our Web programmers and administrators that service the Web marketing and sales organization. These teams have strong IT leadership that defines architecture and other commonalities, leading to better quality (and performance, and security, and maintainability) while still being very aligned and responsive with business needs. I've worked in another shop where IT was more decentralized - there was some central ops team somewhere that played "data center bulldog" but all the individual developer groups had to roll their own system and database admins. That wasn't good. The most competent people, who both knew how to program and run a database for instance, got told to "be the project's DBA" while the less skilled people were the programmers. That's not a recipe for success, and I saw a lot of multimillion dollar projects fail there.

mgr
mgr

Businness requirements determine adequate approach in this dilemma. Some companies can stand longer response times of centralized IT departments, the other ones do not. Really big businnesses must have both or hybrid type of IT department - centralized on strategic level, decentralized on operational level. Analysing and identifying businness priorities in IT will give you the right angle and direction in organizing IT operations. My final oppinion is that IT must be flexible enough to adapt as quick as possible to any changes in businness requirements, but that is nothing new.

WingZer0
WingZer0

With any larger organization can it really be as black and white as centralized or decentralized? We're in the process of centralizing where possible but with several operating groups we will never be fully centralized nor would it make sense. (~75k employees, industrial)

DelphiniumEve
DelphiniumEve

I have been contract for the last 5 years and in the last 6 months took a perm job. Of course, it appears my timing was good. However, this firm is decentralized to the point of inefficiency. When they acquire a company, they do not do follow up projects to roll that acquisition to any kind of 'standard' business applications. To save money, they have offshored their help desk. The extreme piecemeal operation does not benefit from this environment. Also, there is almost no way to implement IdM even though it is on the radar of upper management to do so in the next year. They have systems that do not talk to each other or even play in the same sandbox. The pilots have gone very poorly and they blame it on personnel. All of the modeling was done in one environment that did not actually represent the firm as a whole. I digress...but it is frustrating to see and live with...I wish we would centralize.

dkerta
dkerta

Some services would give more benefit to be centralized, but country specific need should be decentralized. Infrastructure support is decentralized except for wide are network (outsource 3rd party). IT Procurement of standard hardware & software will gain more value with centralize system.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

We're "semi-centralized". Two of us are responsible for the day-to-day needs of the plant we're in, and for a small facility in Canada. The main staff (appx. 19) at corporate HQ is responsible for the strategic and most daily requirements for that site and another small one, and for integration with our parent and sister companies; those firms have their own staffs. The main staff is not responsible the daily operations of one division at corporate HQ; because of the nature of their operations, it makes more sense for them to have their own staff.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I agree. Over the next few weeks I'm going to talk about some hybrid models as well. Stay tuned.