Should There Be an IT Hierarchy in Companies?

When it comes to managing a company’s network, data issues, or IT concerns, there are a lot of people that work together to make sure everything runs smoothly. One task may finally be complete only after various members from different departments come together. People from HR, IT, as well as C-level leaders may all be assigned various roles in order to implement security standards, backup protocol, or onboard contractors.

But, despite the fact that security and network maintenance is a team effort, who has the ultimate say in what goes on? Who is in charge – the one running the show to make sure everyone else does their job? There’s a lot of conversation surrounding this idea that IT shouldn’t be situated in a hierarchy model. However, others disagree and believe that in order for things to really go well, someone needs to take the lead.

The best option?

Let’s find out.

When Roles Get Confusing

Human resources hires a CIO. A CIO then advises the IT team on what needs to be done in order to create a disaster recovery program or help mitigate security risks. IT understands the task at hand and works with the administration on a devising a new budget regarding the systems they’ll need to implement. HR then tells IT that new, outside contractors are being hired, and therefore, those security protocols are absolutely necessary and need to be implemented sooner than later. But, the CIO and other C-level leaders can’t seem to be convinced about whether or not the budget has room for what the others are proposing.

Does something like this sound familiar?

According to a study conducted by Nintex titled the Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes, it was found that 62% of respondents said their company has broken processes when it comes to IT. While it might seem like the office has a system to cope with all these roles, responsibilities, and requests, it can be a bit convoluted. And, especially when each role is so different, it’s difficult to determine who should really be answering to whom. Does IT work under HR when they can control HR’s access to the system? Then, does the CHRO answer to the CIO, or does the CIO answer to the CHRO depending on the situation? Experts believe these roles should be interchangeable in order to avoid conflict and miscommunication in business.

But, that still leaves the role of “leader” unfulfilled, which can be hard when a company’s decision on an important matter cannot be agreed upon. Someone, eventually, must have the final say.

The Problems with Teamwork

Let’s say the whole “teamwork” thing is working well for everyone involved. Then, one day, a data breach occurs, or the network shuts down. One of the biggest causes of something like this, specifically the data breach, is human error. If this happens, the blame needs to put somewhere, even if the company leaders will still need to take responsibility for the entire breach.

Going with the idea that “two heads are better than one”, there are certainly a lot of things a team can accomplish versus a single person when it comes to mitigating risks across the company. That being said, there is also an equal number of things that can go wrong- more things that aren’t being handled appropriately, or miscommunications that can occur – when there isn’t a hierarchy in place to check for errors internally.

Put an Outsourced CIO in Charge

Many companies still hire in-house CIOs, which may be good for the moment, but may not make a difference if there’s a crisis. In any situation where it’s difficult to determine who is in charge, it’s necessary that companies consider hiring an outsourced CIO to make appropriate calls in the best interest of the company, and without employees being personally invested in what’s going on.

An outsourced CIO can easily determine what’s at risk for the company and can clear those up through a process in which everyone works together – a process in which they oversee everything, and assign roles to those who can handle it. They can check for consistent gaps in the system, make sure employees are given the appropriate access to the network based on their position at the company, and work with other C-Level leaders to determine whether or not things like a BYOD policy are safe for everyone involved.

Remember, an outsourced CIO doesn’t have any emotional investment in the company. They are completely unbiased and can, therefore, make decisions that other team members may not be in a position to make themselves or don’t feel comfortable making. While it’s understandable that working as a team can be effective, there are times when something just calls for a professional leader’s decision on the matter.

So, for those that say that there shouldn’t be a hierarchy in IT, maybe they should reconsider before jumping to any conclusions.

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