It’s Complicated: Inheriting a Complex IT Structure

October 30, 2018

Incoming CIOs, business unit leadership, and organizational stakeholders face inherent adversity when taking on a complex IT structure. Complex IT has the potential to be one of the most significant resource quagmires they will ever encounter: Those left to clean up the mess struggle with how to streamline the IT infrastructure, applications, and business processes related to those systems, while at the same time forging productive relationships with senior leaders throughout the enterprise.

But first, how do complex IT structures come to be?

There are multiple root causes. Often, complicated IT structures result from mergers between firms with disparate infrastructure and applications; if those systems are not standardized upfront, the resultant multi-system environments can remain unaddressed and worsen complexity over time. They can occur when business units within the same entity have incongruent end-state IT architecture or uncoordinated vendor management. Additionally, outgoing CIOs who have not managed the demand from disparate business units into a cohesive architecture leave an entangled application layer for their successors. Even with cohesive architecture, there is inherent complexity from new security requirements, data privacy regulations, enterprise cloud migrations, and IT innovations like Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Whatever the root cause of complexity, systems must be disentangled before they can enable the IT organization and business at large.

What’s the solution?

In short, embracing simplicity: Take a commonsense approach to optimizing and standardizing both the infrastructure and application layers, which is harder than it sounds. Logical first steps include unwinding and consolidating the application layer while decommissioning redundant systems; then aligning with future business processes and end-state architecture. Once simplification is achieved, the IT organization should be more agile as it progresses towards the future architecture, while continuing to decommission lesser-used applications and non-standard hardware. None of this is possible without strategic agreement from key senior sponsors and budgets that invest in simplification. With compelling communication, one may even find it necessary to break from the business on some fronts, in order to realize medium-term simplification.

While daunting to achieve, the payoff of a simplified IT structure is an enterprise IT budget that is reallocated from keep-the-lights-on maintenance spend to enabling innovation and efficiencies, the ability to quickly adapt to a business’ growing needs, greater performance, and improved manageability.

Why complicate what’s already complex?

HighPoint solutions are designed to simplify without compromising effectiveness. If your company is seeking strategic alignment between its IT organization and the core business, we bring a commonsense approach and a hybrid team of technology strategists and former tech executives–who have been in your shoes–to tackle the most critical IT challenges and deliver success.