Are Target Operating Models (TOMs) and Organizational Charts the same thing?

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A TOM does not exist in isolation; any organization that wants/needs to transform has to change its IT system/solutions alongside the organizational changes. Both will be driven by the business and IT strategy, and a successful TOM will have to take into account all three areas: people, processes, and tools (technology).

For many IT and infrastructure organizations, speed and quality are key. To speed up while improving, quality many have to (completely) reorganize, aligning much closer with business stakeholders and peers while transforming along a supply or value chain. For many, the route to the praised DevOps land is via a target operating model (TOM), trying to understand the changes needed to infuse speed and quality. Unfortunately, many struggle to get off the starting block due to a skewed view of what a TOM actually is.

A TOM is the conceptual structure of the functions, the roles, and the activities executed by the roles. It focuses on the “what” and is implementation-independent—i.e., it is not the same as an organizational structure. An organizational structure is the implementation of one scenario of the logical structure of the functions, the roles, and the activities executed by roles. It focuses on the “how” and it structures the implementation—i.e., it is the logical implementation of the TOM.

Only once you place names, physical locations, etc. will you articulate an “organizational structure.” Typically, the key is to create the “what” separate from the “how” to use different scenarios (or grouping criteria) to establish the organizational structure. The TOM is the “what” and the organizational (org) chart is the “how” and “with whom,” and finding the “with whom” has to follow a iterative approach and has to start with the “what.”

A TOM does not exist in isolation; any organization that wants or needs to transform must change its IT system or solutions alongside the organizational changes. Both will be driven by the business and IT strategy and a successful TOM will have to take into account all three areas: people, processes, and tools (technology).

When starting to define a target operating model for a DevOps-based and infrastructure-focused organization, you should take external standards into account. One of these standards is the IT4IT framework defined by The Open Group.

As many infrastructure organizations follow a tower-based structure—in other words, a server, data center, network, storage, etc. setup—one of the key changes a DevOps approach will bring is the alignment with a supply-chain approach. In other words, to move from a business-disconnected, tower-based setup to a setup that follows a “business engagement, design, build, and operate” structure.

As per [1] The Open Group has developed significant amount of material (IT4IT Reference Architecture) that provides much more content and context, helping organizations define and detail their TOM.

Thanks for Reading. 

About the Author: Gunnar Menzel has been an IT professional for over 29 years and is VP and Chief Architect Officer for Capgemini’s Cloud Infrastructure Business. His main focus is business—enabling technology transformation and innovation.

References: [1] The Open Group IT4IT

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