People, Process & Politics: Pros & Cons of ICC Organizational Models

August 25, 2009
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IStock_000006846616XSmall different teams As we discussed in my last People, Process & Politics post, the four organizational models most often used to implement ICCs are: common practices, technology standards, shared services and centralized development. The best approach is what fits your enterprise best in terms of people, politics and integration maturity.

Below are some pros and cons of each approach:

Common Practices

A word of caution about this approach is that it is often implemented on a virtual team basis. Although the idea of gaining knowledge without adding more resources is appealing, too often enterprises fail to recognize the level of effort that each contributor needs to make for the common good. If the investment in people is recognized and encouraged – by making it an objective in employee reviews and substituting this work for lower priority work – then this approach can be quite effective. If, however, this activity is just thrown on top of everyone’s already overloaded schedule, then this model will not be effective.

Technology Standards

Not to be a noodge, but you need to be careful with this approach, too. First, how will the ICC team make its selection without using various projects

IStock_000006846616XSmall different teams
As we discussed in my last People, Process & Politics post, the four organizational models most often used to implement ICCs are: common practices, technology standards, shared services and centralized development. The best approach is what fits your enterprise best in terms of people, politics and integration maturity.

Below are some pros and cons of each approach:

Common Practices

A word of caution about this approach is that it is often implemented on a virtual team basis. Although the idea of gaining knowledge without adding more resources is appealing, too often enterprises fail to recognize the level of effort that each contributor needs to make for the common good.

If the investment in people is recognized and encouraged – by making it an objective in employee reviews and substituting this work for lower priority work – then this approach can be quite effective. If, however, this activity is just thrown on top of everyone’s already overloaded schedule, then this model will not be effective.

Technology Standards

Not to be a noodge, but you need to be careful with this approach, too. First, how will the ICC team make its selection without using various projects for requirements input?

Second, the ICC team often does not have the budget or resources to adequately pick a technology platform. This approach means that an additional budget item must be allocated to a pure IT technology project – often a difficult sell in today’s environment.

Third, while the ICC team is examining the technology options, other projects are moving forward without the guidance that the ICC can provide. In other words, more data silos may be built just as the ICC looks at ways to prevent them.

Finally, what are the real incentives for each project to adopt the common technology platform? Many corporate cultures will allow new projects to pick another platform anyway, because these projects must still deliver their objectives in addition to picking up the requirements of the technology platform. Many projects will justify moving forward on their own because of their limited budget, resources and expertise.

Shared Services

This organization enables the enterprise to develop deep data integration skills because the ICC specializes in that area. This approach works extremely well, especially when reinforced by strong business and IT sponsorship along with supporting budgetary investments. The main caution is that decentralized companies may be reluctant to use the shared services approach. However, with strong financial incentives and recognition that many IT services already operate in this manner, you can overcome initial resistance.

Centralized Development

This is an extremely effective model if the corporate culture supports centralized development and control. However, in a decentralized culture, the shared services model will have a better chance of success.

Data integration needs to become an enterprise-wide infrastructure endeavor to stop the proliferation of data silos and provide your enterprise with the timely, accurate and appropriate business information it needs. The right vision, strategy and architecture will show you where you need to go; sponsorship and organization will help you make it happen.


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