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IT Maturity Part 3: What We Didn't See in a Successful Organization

What was really interesting is a total lack of correlation in the one place we expected it most: salary. The staffers in our successful organizations were not necessarily the most highly paid folks we looked at -- they were almost always hovering right around the mean. Money is clearly important to retaining the right people, but you can't necessarily spend more to get better people. You have to get great people and then pay them what they need.

We also saw no correlation around the topic of certifications. Some organizations cared, some didn't; some employees cared, others didn't. It didn't seem to matter, as these attitudes were evenly spread throughout all of the organizations we looked at, including both successful and unsuccessful ones.

We also didn't see correlation in Human Resources practices. As nota big fans of HR ourselves (we were all independent contractors, so it's to be expected), we thought the successful organizations would be the ones that kept HR out of the way. Not necessarily; some of our more successful organizations (again, by the metrics we calculated) set aside up to 10 percent of their employees' time for HR duties like reviews, goal and commitment development (and other tasks).

Budgets didn't seem to be a correlating factor, either. We looked at the overall IT budget, adjusted it for the size of the organization and found that it didn't matter how much you spent per person on IT -- you didn't necessarily get better results. While it's true that we saw more tools in use within successful organizations, so things like software spend would be higher, we also saw more use of self-service and other cost-reducing measures which probably helped offset that additional spend.

We did not see -- and this really surprised us -- a lack of religious fervor within IT. Some organizations were passionate about Windows, others about Unix, and they could be perfectly successful while maintaining that fealty. Certainly, some successful organizations had a little bit of everything, but the striving for homogeneous technology didn't seem to hurt.

We also didn't see an emphasis on cross-training or matrix management. Some of the most successful organizations we looked at were built with incredibly strict disciplinary silos (I'm the Unix guy, you're the database guy, you're the C# guy, etc.); so long as they maintained an appropriate level of cooperation between teams, it didn't seem to hold them back from being incredibly successful.

Read the rest of this blog series here:

Posted by Don Jones on 05/01/2012 at 1:14 PM


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