IT departments have low level of influence inside organizations, says report

- Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IT departments have low level of influence inside organizations, says report

IT departments' low level of influence inside organizations in Chile and the lack of synergies between business objectives and IT are the main points raised by a new research paper on human resources in the IT sector by Cetiuc, the tech department of Universidad Católica, in partnership with consultancy Segacy.

"The low level of influence of CIOs and the IT department in general is one of the issues raised. A person who is an engineer or a programmer has a very low level of influence, and the IT departments resourcing requirements are always underestimated," Segacy innovation director Miroslav Pavlovic told BNamericas. "If the company's demand is 100, the available resources from this sector is 80."

"There's a tendency to do more with less," said Pavlovic, who also highlighted the lack of unity between business' goals and the IT department. "I think business is not in line with IT. The interface with the IT department is not properly defined. For many years the IT manager was supposed to meet with the finance manager, because IT was seen as expenditure."

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The report, known as the national study of information technology 2011 or ENTI, used the human resources for IT model called the British skills framework for the information age (SFIA), adapted to Chile.

It surveyed 101 CIOs from 360 large Chilean companies and government institutions this year using an online form. The verticals ranged from retail to banking and mining, and from government departments to the energy sector.

According to the study, on average an IT worker attends to more than 37 users inside a typical organization, with banking as the sector with the highest IT demand and mining with the lowest IT experts per user.

These differences, the report said, demonstrate the imbalance of IT resources in a variety of organizations.

For example, in the mining sector an IT expert will attend double the number of users as in the banking sector, but also "the salary levels are higher than any other sector, because IT professionals in mining are different from those in the financial sector," Cetiuc director Marcos Sepúlveda said.

"In the banking sector, IT workers focus on software development, whereas in the mining sector you find more business analysts and project managers, because in mining they outsource more than in other businesses," Sepúlveda said.

Other issues highlighted were the lack of a business architect to link the business strategy, mission and processes of an organization to its IT strategy.

"At this moment there are only a few - or maybe not one - companies in Chile that are employing an enterprise architect to unite the business with IT department. In the future, all services from a company will be externalized using the cloud, except management because someone needs to be in charge of the platform's integrity when we use the cloud. This role will be for the enterprise architect," Pavlovic said.

According to Sepulveda, currently CIOs are fulfilling this role.

"The CIO is the mediator between technology and the business. People tend to see the problems from the technology perspective but don't see the problem from a business point of view. That's why it's so important to also identify the CIO's abilities, and here's the main gap," Sepúlveda said.

Cultural barriers are also to blame for the results, Pavlovic said: "The business needs to be involved with IT, but lots of times IT is seen as a window where we throw all the requirements and all the risks involved in the business are transferred to the IT department."

The solution, according to Pavlovic, is for all participants in projects within the company to assume their share of responsibility, from CIOs to the rest of the managers.

THE HUMAN FACTOR

The role of the human resources department in the company was also covered by the report. According to those surveyed, HR departments need to have the capacity to identify how to fulfill business needs by taking into consideration both professional ability and soft skills.

"Human resources tend to ignore the professional abilities of the IT department. Sometimes human resources do not consider the technical and professional qualities of applicants, and they only focus on general abilities but not those useful for the business itself," Pavlovic said. "So as a result, the company will end up with a very structured sector but lacking key abilities."