>Centralized, Distributed, & Hybrid IT Management and Enterprise Architecture

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In User-centric EA, users IT needs are met (timely and with quality solutions), while governance ensure that those needs are aligned with mission and prioritized with others across the organization. To achieve these goals, how should IT management best be organized in the enterprise—centrally or distributed?

The debate over a centralized or distributed management model is an age-old battle. A popular theory states that organizations vacillate in roughly three year cycles between a strong centralization philosophy and a strong decentralization philosophy. The result is a management paradigm that shifts from standardization to autonomy, from corporate efficiency to local effectiveness and from pressure on costs and resources to accommodation of specific local needs, and then shifts back again. The centralized system is perceived to be too slow to react to problems in the field or to issues within a particular company department or division, and the decentralized operation is perceived as fragmented and inconsistent.

To address the pros and cons of each model, there is a hybrid model for IT management, which incorporates centralized IT governance and solutions along with distributed IT planning for the line of business and niche execution.

In the hybrid model for IT governance, an IT Investment Review Board (IRB) centrally directs, guides, and authorizes IT investments through enterprise architecture, IT policy and planning, and a CIO governed-consolidated IT budget. At the same time, IT requirements come from the lines of business, and the lines of business develop their own segment (business) architectures. In some cases, the lines of business actually plan and execute niche IT projects for their areas, while the systems development life cycle for enterprise IT systems and customer support are handled centrally.

The hybrid model for IT management is a very workable and balanced solution that demonstrates true business acumen in that it recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches (centralized and distributed management), and capitalizes on the strengths of each in coming up with a best solution for the organization.

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