Many companies feel that their IT organizations are ‘broken’ or irreparably damaged, and indeed, some are. The symptoms are all too familiar: failed projects, big write-offs, high CIO turnover, etc. These companies are often tempted to succumb to the siren song of the outsourcers who offer to take over all of IT and promise to fix it.

Outsourcing IT can be successful, but not when the organization is damaged. Like the damaged arm of a starfish, the failed IT organization needs to be regenerated, not amputated. Fix the problems first, then revisit outsourcing options.

Successful regeneration efforts require a strong CIO who will say “no” loudly and clearly when needed, even if it makes powerful executives unhappy.

A firm foundation for successful regeneration also includes the following requirements:

Executive buy-in. CxOs need to actively support the regeneration effort. Midlevel managers who prefer the status quo must not be allowed to withhold their cooperation or undermine the efforts of the regeneration team.

Sufficient time. Problems that took many years to develop require substantial time to correct, usually measured in years, not months.

The right team. Regeneration isn’t sexy, but don’t be tempted to put a second-level team on it. Regeneration requires a talented, focused and dedicated team, and prior regeneration experience is invaluable.

Stability. Make any needed staffing changes at the start. Changing leadership or key employees midstream will almost certainly derail the effort.

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