The Advisor IT Organization is a one that has been granted more freedom to think, act, and spend on its own by its sponsors and owners (e.g. the Business). While the IT organization is still owned by and run for the Business, many different IT leaders and specialists are granted more freedom to explore things like new technologies and solutions that can be leveraged to find better ways to improve, both, IT and the Business. In this model, the IT organization is expected to proactively bring solutions to the Business, often along with working Proofs of Concepts (PoCs) and Prototypes that help frame and justify the possibilities for change. It is also common for these organizations to design and build some technical solutions, without input from their business, and then sell such solutions (in the informal sense of “sell”) to the Business to gain traction and establish significant use by the Business. In this role, these IT organizations act as trusted advisors to the Business with significant decision control, hence the label Advisor.
Advisors are the second highest level of IT Organization Maturity, being significantly more developed and autonomous than those organizations that are Order Takers. We see examples of Advisor IT Organizations in very large enterprises, where the budgets for IT have become so large that the Business often has little control of the granular details in IT and control is relinquished to IT leadership, on behalf of the Business. As a result, there is more available funding for things like research, internal automation, career development, transparency, and other things that are normally starved out of Order Taker IT Organizations. In these organizations, the highest IT leader usually is granted a significant amount of budget that he/she directly controls for discretionary spend (above and beyond non-discretionary baseline or Lights-On expenses). This allows him or her the freedom to decide how to distribute and spend such funds, on behalf of the Business and without further approval from the Business. However, just like the Order Taker IT Organization, IT skills are still considered to be one massive expensive to the Business and technical Assets constantly depreciate and lose value. There is no IT revenue gain to offset such losses.
It is also important to note that while Advisors are granted significant power, they rarely have the power to set and/or change Business strategy. They can advise and influence such strategies but rarely own and control them. This is very different from the Revenue Generator, which does get to own and control their own IT business strategies and sometimes even the strategies of the Businesses they serve.
Traits of Advisor IT Organizations
- Moderate Levels of Available Funding: On a per (IT) person basis, the Advisor IT organizations usually significantly more available IT funding than the Order Taker. This is because the Business that sponsors the Advisor IT Organization trusts it to be and act like more of an equal. The Business views IT as more of a necessary and enabling partner than as a subordinate, providing IT with its own discretionary spending budget that it trusts IT leadership to spend on behalf of and in the best interest of the Business. What this means, exactly, is up to the discretion of IT leadership.
- Moderate Levels of Freedom to Act and Execute: Money buys freedom and because there is significantly more available money to spend, all at the discretion of IT leadership, IT organizations get to spend things like Research, which fosters creativity and innovation, and on internal automation, which leads to organizational self-improvement and more time for other things.
- Moderate Levels of Creativity and Innovation: Because the reigns to the IT organization are more loosely managed, there is more internal bandwidth to learn about new things, perform research, and look at new ways of doing things. In other words, IT employees have more freedom to create and innovate at all levels, even if at small levels that only appear to benefit the most insignificant Business and IT functions. In order to do so, IT leadership expects employees to spend more time keeping up with industry changes and looking for new ways to leverage new technologies as an opportunity to keep up with competitors and, in some cases, to develop proprietary solutions that will hopefully help outperform competitors. Sometimes, especially in larger Advisor IT Organizations, new ideas even lead to spin-off companies.
- Moderate Levels of Internal Automation: With more IT freedom to create and innovate comes far more and widespread use of automation. In an Advisor IT Organization, staff is expected to constantly look for new ways to make themselves faster, raise productivity, and reduce costs. This naturally leads to higher levels of internal automation, both, for the Business and for IT. And, more automation leads to more freedom to explore and do other things.
- Moderate Levels of Technical Skills: Because there is more freedom and because creativity and innovation are fostered more than in Order Taker IT Organizations, people spend more time learning more. Employees learn more about technologies and the applications of those technologies. And, because they get to apply what they learn in internal automation solutions, they get to prove and reinforce what they learned. As a result, IT staff in Advisor IT Organizations often have very competitive market skills and their compensations fluctuate around market value. In addition to individuals pursuing self-learning, these IT organizations also spend far more on employee career development.
- Moderate Levels of Staff Morale: Because there is far more IT employee flexibility and freedom and because they’re learning more and get to apply what they learn, employees feel more appreciated and impactful, experiencing higher levels of job satisfaction. As a result, Advisor IT Organizations tend to enjoy higher levels of staff morale.
- Moderate Levels of Staff Loyalty: Because job satisfaction levels and employee morale levels are much higher than in Order Taker IT Organizations, there tend to be much higher levels of employee-to-leadership loyalty. Employees feel that leadership is more invested in them, needs them more, and trusts them more than in Order Taker organizations.
- Moderate Levels of Flexibility: Because staff is more skilled, with more freedom to try and implement different solutions, Advisor IT Organizations tend to be far more flexible, meaning they bring many more viable options for solutions to the table. They can adapt to change and adopt new solutions faster and with more confidence of success than Order Taker IT Organizations can.
- Moderate Levels of Transparency: Because staff automates more, has more time, and has higher skill levels, Advisor IT Organizations tend to have much higher levels of transparency. For example, they proactively collect manage, track, publish, and share data and information about Business and IT inventories than Order Taker organizations will take the time to do, because they understand that such controlled inventories seed automation solutions and raise knowledge maturity.
- Moderate Levels of Knowledge Maturity: Because learning is more readily available, because skills are higher, because there are much higher levels of internal automation, and because there is a realization of the importance for maintaining and sharing Business and IT inventories, the Knowledge Maturity of Advisors is far higher than that of Order Takers. People have higher levels of confidence about finding answers to their questions and problems, even in very large organizations where organizational skills and functions may be dispersed over many geographic locations. Advisor IT Organizations understand the importance of building and maintaining knowledge repositories like Digital Enterprise Libraries (DELs) and establish repeatable processes to collect and maintain the knowledge assets that fuel such systems so that, both, people and other systems can benefit from them.
- Moderate Levels of Project Success: Because there is far more funding, far more internal automation, far higher skills, and far higher levels of Knowledge Maturity than in Order Taker IT Organizations there are far greater levels of project success. Extra money, extra time, and greater skills can be refocused on failing projects to correct them, which are luxuries most Order Takers cannot afford.
- Moderate Levels of Vendor Autonomy: Because internal skill levels and Knowledge Maturity are much higher than in Order Taker IT Organizations, less work needs to be farmed out to vendors. Work can more easily be handled by internal staff, resulting directly in less dependency on vendors for technology advancement and implementation. This, in turn, helps these organizations to continuously improve internal Knowledge Maturity, as things like project knowledge, technology knowledge, solutions knowledge, and operational knowledge mostly stay with the IT organization, rather than leaving the organization when the vendor is done with project work and goes away.
- Moderate Levels of Delivery: Because projects are more successful and because things are constantly being automated, this results in faster and far more productive levels of delivery. This means more things with higher levels of quality get delivered, per average amount invested.
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