Design and Simplicity

By Ron Ashkenas Print this article Print

There are four areas in which CIOs can reduce complexity: inefficient organizational designs; product and service proliferation; unmanaged process evolution; and ineffective but unintentional managerial behaviors.

1. Inefficient organizational design:

• Are there opportunities to consolidate similar functions or units (multiple help desks, for example)—physically, virtually or managerially?

• Are you clear about which functions should be close to your customers and users (such as applications development) and which should be centralized or offered as shared services (such as data centers)?

• How many managerial layers are there between the CIO and first-level IT professionals? Can layers be reduced and spans of control increased?

2. Product and service proliferation:

• Does your company regularly sunset or decommission products and services so that IT resources can be redeployed on new products and services?

• Have you prioritized the IT products and services you provide to internal users and been tough about which services you can’t offer? For example, do you have a standard desktop suite and refuse to support nonstandard applications?

• How well do you test the impact of new applications, products and features on the overall performance of the network—and make sure that they integrate successfully into the existing architecture?

This article was originally published on 2009-12-08
Ron Ashkenas is a managing partner at Robert H. Schaffer &, Associates, a Stamford, Conn., management consulting firm, and the author of the book Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done (Harvard Business Press).
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