The Order Taker IT Organization is one that focuses on doing only what it is told and funded to do by the stakeholders that own and influence it (i.e. the Business). This type of organization takes its marching orders directly from the Business and only the Business, which is usually composed of people who know very little about technology uses or applications, let alone IT organization design, and who only allow the IT organization to make suggestions about using technologies to improve the Business when IT is asked or engaged to do so, hence the label Order Takers.
In these organizations, the highest IT leader is usually granted little to no budget for discretionary spend. IT skills are considered to be one massive expense to the Business and technical Assets constantly depreciate and lose value. There is no IT revenue gain to offset such losses and IT is viewed as a cost center that acts like one big negative financial sink hole.
Most IT organizations in the world fall into the Order Taker category.
The Traits of Order Taker IT Organizations
- Lowest Levels of Available Funding: On a per (IT) person basis, these IT organizations usually have the lowest levels of IT funding because the Businesses that sponsor and fund them usually invest no more into technology and IT staff than they have to. The IT organization is considered to be “less than” the Business and, as a result, is treated as being a second (and often a 3rd) class citizen.
- Lowest Levels of Freedom to Act and Execute: Money buys freedom and because there is so little money for discretionary spend, Order Taker IT Organizations are usually tied closely to approved, funded, and tracked projects. IT staff has little freedom to work outside of what has been predefined and pre-approved. And, as projects fall behind schedule or go above budget, these IT organizations see their freedoms disappear even more.
- Lowest Levels of Creativity and Innovation: Because the reigns to the IT organization are tightly managed, there is very little (if any) discretionary funding that goes beyond anything the Business does not feel is important. As a result, these IT Organizations have the lowest levels of creativity and innovation because they simply do not have access to the required funding or free time necessary to perform research (e.g. exploration, trial and error) for finding and applying new ways of doing things.
- Lowest Levels of Internal Automation: Order Takers, because they are only allowed to automate what their Businesses approve them to automate, almost always have the lowest levels of internal automation. This includes, both, the automation of Business processes and the automation of IT processes. And, there is usually far less IT process automation than there is Business process automation because the Business does not understand that automating IT processes speeds up delivery of Business solutions, at lower costs and with higher levels of quality.
- Lowest Levels of Technical Skills: Because there is such little discretionary funding, the Order Taker IT Organization often has antiquated IT skills because there is little funding to invest in anything beyond basic approved work. These organizations spend the least on IT employee skills development and, as a result, there is little knowledge of new technologies and very little knowledge that qualifies internal IT staff for promotions into management and leadership positions.
- Lowest Levels of Staff Morale: Because there is little IT employee flexibility or freedom to explore new technologies or apply new ways of thinking and because there is very little investment in career development, there is usually very little job satisfaction. All of this results in very low levels of loyalty. Employees in Order Taker IT Organizations have the fewest reasons feel appreciated and, therefore, are most apt to be unhappy.
- Lowest Levels of Staff Loyalty: The lowest levels of morale has a direct correlation to the highest levels of IT employee and consultant turnover. Staff frustration levels are very high because people feel like they can’t get anything done, don’t have an appreciated impact, and don’t matter to their leadership… so they leave for greener pastures. This also leads these IT organizations to have much higher costs associated with replacing employees who leave because they almost always have to pay top replacement dollar at going market prices, which is almost always much higher than the compensation of the employees they lose.
- Lowest Levels of Flexibility: Because Order Taker IT Organizations have very low levels of maturity and productivity, across the board, they are slowest to adapt and change. Their low skill levels make them very inflexible and resistant to change.
- Lowest Levels of Transparency: Because these organizations have such low IT skill levels, they almost always have the lowest levels of transparency. This means they have a very difficult time tracking what they own, who owns and is accountable for such things, where they are, what their costs are, etc. Finding and sharing such information, when they need it most, is usually painful, time-consuming, and expensive. And, more often than not, they will redundantly do the same work to find the same information at different times because they do not proactively manage such information to keep it from getting stale.
- Lowest Levels of Knowledge Maturity: Because transparency levels are so low, Knowledge Maturity is also very low. People who know the enterprise’s technologies, systems, and processes tend to be those who have been around the longest and they rarely share what they know, either to maintain job security or because they just don’t know any better. Low skills, low funding, and low freedom to execute also means limited freedom to learn about and pursue better ways of raising Knowledge Maturity.
- Lowest Levels of Project Success: All the above low levels of funding, skills, maturity, freedom, etc. translate to the highest levels of IT project failure. When budgets overrun, there is very little such organizations can do to recover and, far too often, projects are completely abandoned and failures are ignored. This leads to the added issue that Order Taker organizations tend to repeat the same mistakes, very often.
- Lowest Levels of Vendor Autonomy: Because internal technical skills are so, Order Taker IT Organizations have the highest reliance on vendors to do perform work for them. This means they are subject to the highest implementation prices and usually pay far more than they have to get even the simplest things done.
- Lowest Levels of Delivery: Because of all of the above, Order Taker IT Organizations usually have the reputation for the lowest quantity of solutions delivery. This is especially true since there is such little automation of internal delivery processes and most work that can be automated is performed manually or by external vendors.
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