Mid-market IT shops underperforming, says analyst

IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT MID-MARKET IT SHOPS HAVE TO FEEL SLIGHTLY ENVIOUS OF BIG-COMPANY IT DEPARTMENTS and their access to seemingly unlimited resources, tools and staffers; now, an analysis of recent data trends shows that IT departments in Fortune 1000 enterprises actually are more productive and effective service providers than their mid-market counterparts, and it has nothing to do with the amount of staffers or money spent, according to Hank Marquis, director of IT service management consulting at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

“If the average mid-market IT organization were an independent business, it would have gone out of business long ago,” Marquis writes in a January 2008 advisory report “Are IT Budgets Too Big?”

To support his contention, Marquis cites data gathered from EMA’s own research and from organizations such as Gartner and The Standish Group, indicating that: 90 percent of mid-market IT organizations use manual processes; seven out of 10 calls for IT support are a direct result of incorrect operating procedures, meaning they are self-inflicted by the IT staff; eight out of 10 IT system outages are caused by a failed change – meaning, an IT staffer “didn’t take the time to consider the ramifications of making a change to the infrastructure,” Marquis says.

To top it off, Marquis says that research from EMA and The Standish Group shows that approximately 70 percent of mid-market IT projects fail. While conventional wisdom would say that large companies’ IT shops are more effective because their company’s have deeper pockets, Marquis states that the logic is incorrect. “The common response from [mid-market] IT management to business management is the need for more staff,” he writes.

Marquis supports his argument by comparing the “user-to-IT worker” ratio in midsize and large companies. The Fortune 1000 user-to-IT-worker ratio is 512 users for every one IT worker; in the mid-market, the ratio is 175-to-1. This, Marquis writes, makes “mid-market IT organizations only about one-third as effective as their larger Fortune 1000 cousins.”

“It’s not more staff that’s needed,” Marquis concludes. “Existing staff must become more productive.”

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