Is Embedding IT Staff The New Way For CIO’s To Organize IT?

Placing IT staff in other departments is a new IT trend
Placing IT staff in other departments is a new IT trend

Image Credit: VIA Gallery

The person with the CIO job understands that the because of the importance of information technology, the role of the IT department is to support the rest of the company. The challenge for the longest time has been how exactly to go about doing this. Over the past few years, the interactions between the IT department and other departments has been increasing; however, there is still a gulf between the two groups. Innovative CIOs have been looking for a way to bridge this divide. A few of them think that they may have found a way: embedding IT staff.

How Embedding IT Staff Works

If you want your IT department to work more closely with other departments, embedding your staff in other departments is an idea that you’ll need to consider. One of the primary motivations that other companies have cited for doing this is that it provides them with more time to focus on creative projects. These are the projects that ultimately end up making money for the company.

There are a lot of different roles in an IT department. Not all of these positions make sense to be embedded in another department. Your SQL expert and your server administrator should probably remain within the IT department. However, your business analysts who are already interacting with other departments are prime candidates to be placed in another department full time. They will still report to you, but they’ll spend their day working in another department such as sales, marketing, or even finance.

While they are deployed within these departments, they will spend their time supporting the IT needs of the department as well as taking the time to gain expertise on the system or systems that that the department uses on a daily basis. Their job will be to develop an understanding of how this department actually uses the systems that are available to them. They can also study how secondary systems are used. These assignments are not permanent, instead the analysts should be rotated every six months.

What The Benefits Of Embedding Staff Is

The embedding of IT staff in other departments will provide benefits to the overall IT organization. Having the business analysts get to know what the people in the department in which they are embedded actually do on a daily basis will go a long way in collecting useful information for the IT department. Over time, the IT department will come to have a view of how the entire company operates.

Every project that a company undertakes has an amount of time that it is going to require. The person with the CIO position is hoping that by embedding department staff in other groups they are going to be able to cut the turnaround time on these projects. Since the IT staffer knows the people in the department and knows how they operate, this should serve to cut down on miscommunication and delays in providing the department with the IT resources that they need.

Additionally, by providing the IT team with an on-the-ground view of exactly what is happening in the company, this will allow the team to make better decisions more quickly. This will allow IT to do a better job of supporting the various departments that they are embedded in. When taken together, all of these actions by the IT department should help to reenforce IT’s strategic role within the company.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for IT to better support the other departments in the company, IT has to gain a deeper understanding of what those departments do and, even more importantly, how they go about doing it. Innovative CIOs have found a new way to allow IT to work more closely with the rest of the company.

Embedding IT professionals in other departments allows them to get first-hand information on what the department actually does. They can also better observe what IT systems are used by the department and how they use them. Rotation of the embedded IT staff will ensure that information is shared throughout the company.

The benefits of embedding IT staff are clear. Turnaround time on projects may be able to be slashed because the specific needs of individual departments will now be known to IT staff and custom solutions can be created. The next time you want to work more closely with your company’s other departments, consider embedding your IT staff in those departments.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How much of the IT department do you think should be embedded?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The person with the CIO job has a lot to do in the best of circumstances. When your company has been accused of aiding in aiding in the laundering of US$881M and has had to pay a US$1.9B fine, things just got a whole lot tougher and the importance of information technology doesn’t matter as much. HSBC is in a bad place and right now it looks like their IT department is not going to be able to help them to get out of it any time soon.