In the article How IT Teams Pursue An Awesome Value Delivery? we present a journey that IT teams may go through to achieve high efficiency and high maturity to deliver great value. We show there why IT managers together with their teams should aim to build as mature and efficient IT services operations as possible. It is in the hands of the management board however to provide the resources to achieve it. The engagement of the board in building solid IT depends on many things. What drives it is of course business needs. They are always higher than what IT is capable of delivering in a given moment. What really makes the difference between keeping IT at a low level of operations and letting it develop, is a balance between the board’s determination of fulfilling the business needs and the size of adversities, which they need to overcome. Let’s see what holds the company’s authority on each level and what makes them let the IT team thrive.

If you haven’t read the How IT Teams Pursue An Awesome Value Delivery? article, you may want to do it before proceeding with the rest of this one.

Stage 1 – Basic operations mode

This is where IT services are relatively cheap to maintain and operate. A small IT team focuses mostly on maintaining a relatively narrow range of IT services. Usually, in this model, they don’t have time to implement new functionalities, so both the personnel and the infrastructure remain cheap. Many organizations stay in this phase for a very long time to keep it that way. For many management board members cheap IT means effective IT. For this very reason, they refuse to finance any upgrades, team growth, or new implementations. Some of them do it consciously, some don’t.

Ignorance – the worst sin

The worst case is where the directors don’t understand how much potential for the whole company’s efficiency, productivity, and growth they’re losing by refusing to invest in IT. What’s even worse, they also don’t recognize the risks coming from relying on a very small team or lack of IT security mechanisms.

In some cases, a company is quite wealthy and pays good money to the board members and the shareholders. Everyone is happy about making good money. They are so focused on their good results, that they forget to care about the inevitable future problems that will arise sooner or later. These problems are caused by a lack of redundancy on each level and a lack of proper IT security level. It leads to major disruptions of the availability of crucial IT services and vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Eventually, it may result in the loss of critical company data. When these issues arise, they appear suddenly, intensely, and cause a lot of costly trouble. They may cost a company a serious capital loss or even bankruptcy.

This scenario is the most dangerous, as it makes the IT in this low state until a disaster happens. The only way to get away from this situation is constant and persistent education of the board about the risk.

Trying not to sink the whole boat

In many organizations, their management board members are aware of potential issues and educated enough. They understand the risks and losses for the company. They would like to expand the IT but don’t have much choice. As long as the company has low profits, spending more money than absolutely necessary, could sink it within a few months. The directors know how few services their IT provides compared to the potential portfolio. They also know how poor the support quality is and what are the risks coming from that. They wish they could spin the IT team up, but they have to provide a larger stream of money incoming to the company’s budget first. Only then they can increase the level of financing provided for the IT. It makes them possible to get to the next level.

Stage two – The IT revolution.

A company is wealthy enough to finance a more advanced, more mature, and more efficient IT. Unfortunately, it may be hard to move up in these aspects if IT was operating without proper funding for some time. Network, for example, always grows gradually with the organization’s growth. With little investment in this process, it may need deep reconstruction. For IT to be efficient it has to lay on solid ground. Well planned and implemented infrastructure is a must regardless if it’s delivered on-premise or in a public cloud. If it’s avoidable and if it can be done gradually, it’s usually a more preferred way to increase IT maturity that way. Sometimes though organizations have to reconstruct, replan, and reimplement a whole IT infrastructure and even some applications from a scratch.

Rising costs instead of promised savings

Regardless of the pace of doing that, one common issue always arises. Maintenance costs of the IT environment grow significantly with expanding it. Management boards can quickly become nervous seeing it. They are responsible to keep the company’s finances on track after all. On the other side, most of the systems vendors repeat how much IT guys’ time is saved by using their product. What they don’t say though is that there are higher and more specified skills needed to operate the more advanced and orchestrated systems. They don’t say also that advanced IT systems save time and work in fulfilling tasks, which previously were done the manual way. In many cases however these activities have not been performed at all, so there is nothing to save. The applications may deliver great value and increase productivity, but never work all on their own – without the involvement of the IT staff.

Having the tools, but not using them

This is the point where a company has all the tools to deliver great IT services. It is not capable of doing it though because of lacking both – the resources and the competencies. This situation can evolve in two ways. One is a slow degradation of the IT infrastructure and applications until reaching the state in which they’re not only unmanageable but unusable too. What it may lead to is even a waste of all the money invested in IT improvements. Another way is…

Stage three – The rise of IT management.

If there is a responsible and competent IT manager, he or she has to obtain more IT workforce. And not any workforce, but skilled employees specialized in the areas which need to be covered. Only this way the expensive IT infrastructure and IT systems can be used to deliver the expected return. Compared to stage one the IT team must expand up to double or even triple the initial state. It is another pain for the management board. The directors, who just had to swallow the unexpectedly high costs of IT environment maintenance, now have to spend even more to hire a significant number of well-paid IT guys and ladies. They may not like it again. Their expectations of the return on the investment grow even bigger with these expenses.

Enough to operate, not enough to expand

As the business sees the IT team growing rapidly, it demands more specialized systems supporting its operations. Many departments want their work to be automated and simplified by digitalization. The management board agrees on a series of implementations. The large IT team is expected to deliver these applications. Unfortunately, the scope, that the new, larger team can cover is just the technical area of maintaining and maybe upscaling the existing services. There are usually not enough management and operational resources to lead and deliver new implementations and functionalities. IT projects are managed by non-IT employees or IT technical staff. It makes the whole process lack the proper business analysis and description of demands for the final product.

Another dangerous issue

Another area that may still suffer in this stage is IT security. To deliver it properly, the IT team needs even more employees or a set of external specialized services, which are not cheap. Strong management is also needed for IT security to be delivered effectively and to provide real value instead of just disturbance for users.

All of these may be addressed finally at the…

Stage four – IT as the leader of the business transformation.

The IT department becomes one of the biggest in the whole company, and definitely the biggest supporting team. To deliver real value and provide a growing set of services, IT needs not only significantly big technical teams. A solid team of non-technical, operations employees is what organizes the IT work properly. Service managers, business and systems analysts, corporate and applications architects, and service level managers are some of the roles, which have to be fulfilled. With them on board, IT can not only maintain the infrastructure and applications. It can also efficiently deliver new implementations and optimize itself for constantly growing efficiency and security.

Why double operations staff in IT and the operations team?

What may stop management boards from allowing IT to hire all of this operational personnel is a lack of knowledge of how important they are for IT to deliver the expected return on investment. First of all the directors may think that all of these positions are just not needed. They can see the IT department only as the technical organization dedicated to solving strictly technical issues. With this point of view, it’s not easy to understand why IT needs so many operational and business-related employees. Management would see these kinds of competencies rather in the operations team or in the PMO team. Relying only on these divisions to lead the IT projects and operate the IT services may have poor results. Without basic IT technical knowledge and experience in IT operations, they may fail to calibrate the functionalities to fit not only the users’ expectations but also the specific IT environment conditions.

Stakeholders first, but not only

Stakeholders still have to be in the center of each of the final solutions’ architecture of course. Some of its aspects though have to be adjusted to the solutions’ limitations. Also, the process of choosing the solution to be implemented cannot be determined by the users’ requests only. In the mature, digitalized organization, the enterprise architecture and applications architecture processes determine which systems would or would not be implemented. Architecture principles, on which the organization agrees with the IT, to follow, are the main framework, to which applications need to be fitted. This approach helps to deliver a consistent and efficient IT environment, which is capable of scaling up efficiently. The scalability is based on the synergy of functionalities in systems and on integrations between the systems.

The working enterprise architecture and applications architecture processes need highly skilled IT staff. This is an additional, significant cost, but without it, big IT environments quickly become messy and hardly manageable piles of chaotically implemented applications.

High expansion of services with low expansion of resources

Another advantage of a mature and big IT organization, which works in favor of efficiency, is the capability of continuously increasing integration and automation. For it to happen, another branch of highly skilled personnel needs to be involved – DevOps. These guys and ladies sitting somewhere between development and the infrastructure connect everything with their scripts and APIs. Each individual application may deliver great value to the organization, but the DevOps layer is what turns a set of individual applications into an effective ecosystem working as a single organism to provide highly efficient value to the organization.

Great value from great money

Unfortunately, for the company to have this level of value from IT, it has to invest an awfully lot of money in it. In fact, in mature and modern organizations, IT is by far the biggest cost. For this kind of maturity of IT to be sponsored, the business needs to be willing not only to become fully digitalized. It also needs to trust IT to provide this digitalization together with the organizational transformation.


As you can see, what drive organizations to really benefit from the IT solutions are:

  • Unrestrained pursuit after full digitalization and optimization of the business operations.
  • Willingness to give the IT department as much power to drive the organizational transformations as possible.

Lack of financial resources makes many organizations incapable of getting to that high level of maturity and effectiveness. If however a company has some funds and is willing to use them to drive future business growth, it’s really worth considering dedicating it to building more advanced and more mature IT.