Is Your IT Shop a Scrambler or a Leader?

An IT veteran describes the four stages of the technology organization -- and what it takes to move up a notch

Technology organizations evolve on a four-step path, with each step enhancing the value of the organization to its customers. Most IT organizations are in the first two stages: Scrambler and Producer.

Scramblers have a great deal of difficulty getting the basics right and spend much of their time reacting to events. Producers get the basics right but haven't yet evolved further.

To better understand Scramblers and Producers, it's important to define the basics--the distinguishing criteria. In short, what separates Producers from Scramblers is a level of competence in IT operations, application development, personnel and finance.

The list of specific capabilities is long, but it includes items such as hitting online and batch service-level agreements, managing security risks and producing high-quality software. Caution: The basics sound like common sense, which may tempt you to jump to the conclusion that you have them handled, but most organizations don't execute the basics as well as they think they do.

Organizations that get the basics right for operations and application development may be tempted to declare victory. But any success is probably temporary if the organization isn't paying attention to its people and its finances.

If an organization doesn't treat its people properly (for example, no mentoring or training), the high-quality employees may go elsewhere. If an organization mismanages its finances, it may lose out when the company decides how to allocate capital.

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