Silos are for farms, not SMEs – unless, of course, your SME is an agricultural company that needs to store grain or compress green crops for sileage.
In that case, of course, silos would be very useful. Otherwise, avoid them at all costs.
Having people ‘working in silos’ – that is, operating in isolation from others – is bad practice. But it can easily happen, especially in the area of IT where specialisms can be complex and colleagues perhaps don’t routinely share details of their work goals, or progress towards them. Designing out such blinkered practice with a well-planned team structure is therefore becoming a growing priority for companies of all sizes, as they strive to be as efficient as possible.
And as technology continues to evolve, the ideal line-up of an IT department has become the subject of passionate debates, historically reserved for the intricacies of fantasy football.
So what should your IT team look like in 2018?
Predictably, there isn’t a single off-the-peg solution, but one thing is certain – the old model of an IT department as simply an enabler and cost reduction unit is fading fast.
Digital transformation is everywhere, data is king and it’s up to your in-house or partner IT experts not just to fix things but to actively identify the business opportunities via latest technology – as well as being able to present those ideas and carry them forward.
Jobs on the increase
As IT has become so central to commercial success, titles such as ‘Head of Projects’ and management roles in software development, analytics and data, enterprise, digital and commercial areas are increasing in status and prevalence.
Increasingly, jobs like ‘Support Manager’ have been modified with new titles such as ‘Customer Experience Manager’, with the focus no longer on keeping a helpdesk afloat but on the management of internal relationships – plus, making sure that the team actually delivers what the technology makes possible.
Also, following GDPR and the threat of devastating consequences following a data breach, you are now more likely to see a ‘Head of Security and Risk’ in larger companies, who can scan the horizon for challenges ahead, rather than merely reacting when something goes wrong.
As many businesses outsource their data to a cloud, ‘Infrastructure, Operations or Support Managers’ tasked with the sole responsibility of looking after the company hardware are becoming fewer and further between – unless they are able to find a new niche, and probably a fresh job title, in client/vendor engagement.
It goes without saying that in five years’ time, further changes will have reshaped the way companies operate, and the jobs, skills and personnel needed in IT will be very different again.
If you are a start-up, you are advised to think about structure from the outset – within IT and beyond – as many experts believe a robust organisational framework will mean the difference between growing successfully and dying a chaotic death.
And since we’re talking keys to success, another one is to assemble your team so that important, creative projects get the attention they require alongside the regulatory and compliance priorities.
Which brings us back to silos…
To achieve in such a mission, any silos need to be broken down and replaced with an open culture of effective, cross-functional working.
No more silos
Silos actually used to work well in many situations, by allowing IT pros to focus on a particular technology and eliminating the problem of ‘too many cooks’. But as we’ve been discussing, the times they are a changin’.
Some organisations have tackled their silos by breaking up well-defined teams to focus on special projects, with personnel chosen for their interests and expertise. Though this radical approach needs buy-in at the outset, from all involved – and time to settle in – the results are often worth the upheaval.
One silo-free vision of the corporate IT ideal is a team that is high performing, does not have any turnover but is happy and seeks career growth with your company. One that is comfortably challenged and innovative, whose members know what they are aiming for – and why.
A similar sentiment can apply to an external IT partner – a company whose staff can demonstrate those attributes, and who will constantly come to you with new ideas and proposals.
Finally, whatever you are achieving together, there should always be scope to do better and aim higher. Good luck!
Want to talk about your IT team structure? Contact Q2Q today to see how we can help.