The IT organization chart is much more than the IT organization structure or the IT operating model it symbolizes it is also a communication tool. The IT organization chart is an expression of the CIO’s values and orientation as the leader of the IT department. How the IT department is organized, the terminology used in naming the groups, and especially the visual of the IT organization chart speaks volumes about the CIO.
It wouldn’t be wrong to use the IT organization chart and its terminology to judge where the CIO is on the continuum of being strategically versus tactically focused. Being services oriented versus technology oriented. Or being customer centric versus internally focused.
This is why much more thought should go into setting up the IT organization model and how it is represented visually in the IT org chart.
Purpose of the IT Organization Chart
Why do we create IT organization charts in the first place? What purpose do they serve? Does the IT org chart advance the IT mission? Provide customers with valuable information?
IT organization charts can be a very powerful communication tools for CIO’s to show their customers how IT is organized to serve their needs. But that is less about the actual IT org chart as it is about how the IT department is actually operating.
Hierarchical vs. Functional IT Org Charts
Some CIO’s instinctively understand the power of the IT org chart yet struggle to execute on their insight. The University of New Mexico might be a good example. UNM produces a hierarchical IT organization chart and a functional IT organization chart.
The hierarchical IT organization chart reflects the reporting structure. The functional IT organization chart reflects the traditional ownership and accountability orientation of IT functions.
Why the two IT org charts for UNM? I realize this is a fairly common practice but what is the benefit of the functional IT org chart? Presumably the IT department personnel know who does what and what manager owns which functions. So who is the intended audience?
By creating the functional IT org chart UNM actually creates more problems than it likely solves. First, it misses an opportunity to communicate the IT functions in a way their customers will recognize and care about. Instead it is technology centric and internally oriented. To be honest it screams “look how much we do!”
Second, although the “Functions Common for Each Director” (upper right) are well intentioned, its presence opens the door to some unwanted questions. Why not include customer service or quality assurance as universal functions for all directors just as with security? Who is responsible for the user experience?
Customer Centric IT Organization Structures
I chose UNM as the example here only because they are so very close to being able to produce a customer centric IT organization chart. The shortest path for UNM would be to overlay their IT service catalog with the IT org chart.
This approach masks all those functions that are a part of how the sausage gets made and presents a simple menu of what the customer cares about.
For those that embrace the notion of running IT like a business, your IT organization chart most definitely must reflect a customer centric model of services, performance management and customer relationship management.
The illustration below shows one method where you can stratify the IT organization chart by putting the customer facing services on top and the back-end, internal, functions and processes below.
This is just one idea of many on how you can use your IT organization chart to communicate a number of messages to your organization that your customers will find useful.
For those CIO’s who have embraced the notion of transformational leadership this is a great place to begin your journey.