• United States



by Marc Cecere

How should development work be allocated between local and centralized groups?

Jan 11, 19993 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

To answer this question, let’s assume the IT shop is a “traditional” one. Thereare local development groups that are closely linked to business units such asfinance, sales or a product group. They probably report to a CIO, but the bulk of their work is to support a business unit.

There is also a centralized development group consisting of people with broaderproject management and technical skills. This group also includes people withhard-to-find skills, such as Java programming, which are needed across theenterprise.

The following figure shows the kinds of work performed by both groups as well asthe drivers for this allocation.

For this scenario, the extremes are straightforward. Day-to-day minor modifications of existing applications, report generation and other work not requiring ahigh-resource commitment is done by the local groups. Allocating this job to acentralized group introduces a layer of bureaucracy that is unnecessary. Also, ifthe development groups are collocated with end users, personal relationships form,which make the process more iterative and, therefore, responsive to the end user.

Conversely, large projects, which often have a significant impact on multiplebusiness units, should be managed by the central group. For example, the Year 2000(Y2K) or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) deployment would be examples ofthese. It should be noted, however, that projects of this type also will includelocal resources. Today, many companies implement this through the creation ofprogram offices. It is between these extremes that the decision becomes difficult.Conditions that would drive projects to a local group include the requirements fora high level of business knowledge, lower level of effort (e.g. less than 100 hoursof work) and a fast response. Conditions favoring a central group include greatersize, higher corporate risk, impact on multiple divisions and the need for verybroad or hard-to-find skills.

Where this is typically decided is in the project prioritization process. This isthe process where service requests are prioritized and allocated to theappropriate group. Typically, there are five types of requests:

  1. From the business plan: these are projects associated with business plans of the corporate or business units
  2. Unplanned: similar to above but not part of any approved plan
  3. Adhoc: includes activities such as minor modifications to applications and new reports (in general, these are very small projects)
  4. Help desk, no incident: includes moves, adds, changes
  5. Help desk, incident: addresses a problem submitted to the help desk

No.1 and No. 2 go through a process requiring a statement of work, a projectsponsor and a delivery manager. No. 3 goes through a very streamlined version ofthe above. Typically, these are performed by dedicated local resources. No. 4 andNo. 5 are handled through the help desk processes.

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