In our last blog, “The Need for a Digital Workplace on Office 365,” we talked about Organic IT - systems and applications that arose naturally as the business grew. At the time this was necessary from a departmental point of view in order to set into place a way for employees to receive services, follow procedures, submit requests, and ask questions.
The downside to this approach of Organic IT is that interdepartmental communication and access to employee-facing business processes, such as time off or expense reporting, is completely separate from one another. This presents a number of problems when employees need to interact with multiple departments and receive services in order to effectively do their job.
From the employee’s perspective, they see chaos because of the inconsistencies resulting from the siloed departments that operate in isolation. Even from a manager’s perspective, requesting approvals or reporting on employee activities within the department is chaotic. Unfortunately employees lose work time when they need to focus on their job, and this causes frustration at all levels.
In order to alleviate this chaos, automate processes, and improve departmental productivity, business systems were added as the business grows with little regard to the impact across departments. This approach aggravates an already complex situation.
The result is a chaotic tangle of business applications, communication by endless emails, and documents scattered across servers, or worse yet, in a giant file server. The complexity of accessing internal services is placed on the employee while department managers unknowingly believe the services they are providing are genuinely helpful and clear.
Organic IT = Chaotic IT Infrastructure
This chaotic IT infrastructure resulting from inconsistencies between multiple departments is what we call Organic IT. Until now this term has been used historically in the 90s and early 00s to define a holistic way to think about the basics of IT infrastructure, hardware, and networks. However, here at SP Marketplace, we take it up a level to relate to software applications and tools that are used every day by employees to operate a business. It is at this level that impacts a business’ productivity and its ability to grow. We define Organic IT as:
At many businesses, this Organic IT rarely goes discussed, which is severely detrimental to the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations. Unfortunately, the executives like CEOs and CTOs are the losers because they aren’t aware of the true impact of the problem.
This really becomes problematic when the CEO can’t access business analytics across the organization when she needs it most. And sometimes IT managers and staff pawn it off as not their problem because their focus is on what they view as the IT Infrastructure, such as the hardware, networks, email, and others.
Business executives like the CFO or COO might not understand enough about the technology to see the problem. And department managers often have blinders on beyond their own area, so they don’t see the problem either.
Unfortunately, this Organic IT infrastructure grows like an addiction. Departments continue to add more best-of-breed applications, especially now with cloud-based applications allowing them to do this outside of IT review. As the addiction continues, it gets harder to untangle.
The Impact of Organic IT
Organic IT just doesn’t impact one part of a business. It spans across the entire business, impacting productivity and costs. What’s particularly alarming is that Organic IT can prevent an organization from growing and implementing new business strategies. The major areas that Organic IT impact are:
As you can see, the impact of Organic IT is deep and spans everyday operations, budgets, and strategy. It might be one of the major reasons that business initiatives fail at the operational level. Yet many businesses would prioritize a new standalone recruiting system over addressing the higher level issue.
Like an addiction, often the root cause is not understood and addressed, and only the symptoms are seen. Take onboarding of new employees. Why is this so complex? Part of it is due to increased employee regulations. But, outside of these regulations, much is related to the amount of work necessary to set up and train an employee on systems they will use. If onboarding was not so complex, would it be so time-consuming?
We will end this blog here. But stay tuned for our next blog release when we go deeper into employee productivity, increasing IT costs, and the hidden costs of an Organic IT infrastructure.
If you missed our previous blog, “Digital Workplace 365 Blog Series: Part 1 – The Need for a Digital Workplace on Office 365,” you can read it here and comment with your own opinions and challenges.
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