Co-ordination of Business and IT Development Processes - Managing Stovepiped Organisations

Hakan Sundberg, Patrik Wallin


The background to the present study is supplied by two studies of a large Swedish public organisation. A strong hierarchy, which maintains a traditional view of functional departments as being the owners of IT products, creates stovepipes and silos, not only within the systems but also within the organisation, which tends to obstruct crossfunctional projects and the ability to ascertain general needs and requirements. The present study considers the integration of business and IT processes, focusing on the development process and the purchaser-contractor relations. The purpose is to find success factors, good examples and areas of improvement from private companies relating to the problems from the studied public organisation. Sixteen interviews with five Swedish banks and one insurance company appeared to suggest that the problems highlighted in previous studies, e.g. stovepipe systems and departments, were not recognised as significant problems within any of the interviewed organisations. In general, the development processes were considered well-oiled with little friction between departments, system owners, purchasers and contractors. In almost all interviews, it was considered that the integration of customer, information and IT was more cohesive than previously. The findings from the interviews have been categorised into nine factors or areas. Three general business environment factors - the history of organisational change and mergers, the overall economic situation and the strong customer focus - seem to have broken the functional mind-sets and sharpened and focused the organisations into a collaborative culture. Furthermore, a great deal of hard work appears to have been centered upon three factors relating to processes and the management of projects: the development processes are generally very well defined and well known internally, projects are smaller with modules and releases, and there is an open discussion about stovepiped departments and general requirements. Lastly, there are three areas of improvement: The role and competencies of the purchaser, the infrastructure and the need for an enterprise architecture, and the document interface including the use of RUP and UML.

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