Retrospectives on Regional and Local IT organisations

Last week I was away for business to discuss with our Korea IT team on upcoming initiatives with our Customer.  I from a regional organization’s perspective, is to ensure that the requirements, processes and implementation approaches are aligned with efficient, low-cost synergy among the countries.  Interesting facts were discovered in this trip that made me wondering the types of expectations the countries have on us.

Firstly, we went through the information of the Functional Specification document from the Customer to understand what are the new requirements to be developed for the new release.  Surprisingly it was not that no one in the team had ever read the document in details, but the question for requesting the Business Requirement document to understand the processes.  I thought this information should have communicated to the Customer weeks after the initial conference call on this document’s walkthrough and not till when I was there in the country.  This was really disappointing as the team should have highlighted to me even before this discussion and they do not have the initiative to do so.  Hence I offered a hand in following up with the Customer for the request of this document.

Throughout the 3 days’ visit, lots of information was shared with me on the resources’ contraints they are facing in getting a programmer, database administrator and system analyst to manage the gap analysis and system designs for the new functions indicated.  I brought these concerns to my Manager but I was again surprised with the feedbacks that the Korea team should take up these responsiblities, with facts that the regional solution team had done the transition and handover of the system 2 years ago and no resources from regional solution team to assist them.  As a regional team, we should consolidate and define the possible, realistic approaches to solve or minimize the problems encountered but we do not run away from it.  If we are to stand back and let the local team on their own, what is the point of having a regional organisation and what is/are our vision and synergy that I had understand from my job scope?  Again, I believe my Manager has reasons to reflect these comments, utimately to get the local country to be responsible.  I do believe they are certain job scopes at the country level are able to manage and support (e.g. on modifying the reports, network issues) but they might not have the capabilities to perform software development tasks.

I managed to talk to our Director on these issues and alternatives were highlighted and advised by him on the next steps and information gathering with other country IT team so that we can move on the follow-ups to work on and bringing those feedbacks back to regional and country IT teams to evaluate on.

In brief, there are certain level of standardisations to be synergized between the regional and local organisations.  In this case, if we are to let country to develop and maintain the codings by themselves we will have issues on the release managment.  We have to find out what are the general functions to be maintained by regional and which are the customizations at country level can be maintained by local team, that goes for the roles and responsibities’ matrix for each organisation.


1 Response to “Retrospectives on Regional and Local IT organisations”

  1. 1 Lui Sieh
    July 29, 2008 at 11:04 am

    This is a nice real life case study of the growing changes of IT organizations in many MNC (possibly other enterprises as well). When I read your experience, I was trying to ask myself what exactly is your organization’s IT operating model? How is it providing services to the business partners (i.e. customers)?

    I too face similar challenges with respect to Regional vs. Areas (i.e. multiple countries) vs. Local (i.e country). There are ownership and accountability issues stemming from unclear organizational lines (functional vs. matrix), resource issues (not enough, wrong ones, misplaced in different IT functions or different countries, who owns them, who manages them etc), internal IT misalignment, or wrong service delivery discipline etc. I could go on and on.

    At the end of the day, depending on the IT organization’s operating framework – it should be clear where the resources lie and who is managing them (but the trick is who manages the resources don’t always own/pay for them). My experience with Regional guys is that there should be agreement first on – delivery approach such as regionally driven or locally driven. The answer to this question really depends on the scope of the solution – is it country specific or is it regional? If the IT solution is to be implemented across a region, then region must assume the responsibility and the accountability. I don’t mean that a single person who take it and run, but that a steering committee or a project committee/board should take ownership to manage the end-to-end project life cycle. Additionally, the group of individuals will be responsible for setting the timing, agreeing to the scope, and managing the resources (e.g. budgets, people). But probably most importantly, these groups of individuals will be supporting the project manager and team in the area of change management and communications management (e.g. stakeholder engagement). Without this support, the project manager and team will suffer through endless debates and rework and scope changes. It’s a death spiral toward inaction.

    Line up the decision makers and then march forward.

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