The four stages of IT departments

IT departments evolve across four different phases as it matures. 

Stage 1. Managing assets. 
The first stage of IT departments consist in managing servers, networks and software. They see themselves as the guardians of the infrastructure. They try to prevent users from harming their environment. 

Stage 2. Managing projects. 
At this stage, IT operations are a necessary evil. Operations distracts them from their true purpose: managing projects. The IT leadership spends little time overseeing operations, instead being completely consumed with projects. 

Stage 3. Managing services. 
IT departments focus on developing service standards and meeting them, consistently. They investigate methodologies and tools such as ITIL. 

Stage 4. Managing relationships. 
IT departments focus on developing and managing relationships with the business. It understands the priorities, political landscape and constraints of all the major players. It adapts its service and projects to best meet their needs and influence the direction fo the business. 

While most departments see a gradual evolution, several get stuck in any given stage. It is easy to focus on project management. Leaders are caught developing complex project management office and governance to support it. Or on the service stage where organizations target aggressive ITIL certifications. 

But the key is to identify the minimal required for each phase. Achieving perfection can prevent the evolution, rather then help it. "

Posted on June 20, 2014 and filed under blog.