Role of IT in a matrix

By Kevan Hall. CEO, Global Integration

I read an interesting blog post on the role of IT and the CEO, in it the author argues that IT should not report formally into the business line in a matrix as this impinges on their ability to drive innovation and focus on IT issues that extend beyond the boundaries of the business unit.

Are there some functions that are “naturally” less amenable to a matrix organization? What do you think?

On the other hand many functions could make a strong case for requiring special treatment based on technical issues or the need for independence – HR, legal etc… Yet a functional organization is often criticized for being out of touch with the line business priorities.

It is hard to imagine an effective IT function that does not take into account line requirements. Perhaps the balance of having a formal reporting line to a  business unit helps IT people stay grounded and at the leading (not the bleeding) edge of technology.

The balance between function and business unit is a common dilemma in matrix organization structures, and IT is often one of the early functions to feel these divided loyalties – but that does not mean that the structure is to blame. The structure just helps make these dilemmas explicit and provide a framework for discussing and agreeing the balance.

It is the way people work together that makes the difference.

What are  your views on how different functions work in the matrix?

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