Very often internal IT departments are competing with external providers, they mimic their processes, pretend to be independent, … but there is a key difference that cannot be forgotten, an internal IT department is part of the same company, contributing (or impacting) the same balance sheet. This difference has many impacts on different aspects such as : Intellectual property, risk taking, communication, ..

Intellectual property

As IT is more and more becoming core (see previous post), IT is involved in topics connected with the core know how of the company. The IT department has access to information which is hidden to external providers. Therefore IT departments should not position themselves like external providers as they have a different role to play being part of the products their company is offering

Risk taking

An external provider is trying to minimize as much as possible the risk he takes. All known methodologies like CMMI have been built towards that goal: ensure repeatable delivery, project after project.
Of course, every organization share this goal of successful deliveries, no one wants to fail ! Nevertheless, the risk level a company may be comfortable with is different from the risk its provider is likely to take. Furthermore, internally knowledge is deeper and therefore risk perception is different from outside


Clearly, no man is a prophet in his country ! Nevertheless, an IT department should not try to mimic external providers in communication plans, ads, … IT has a direct access to colleagues in other departments, this is a big advantage to facilitate communication : no need to break call filtering, to build outstanding brochures to catch attention, … Internally communication can be spread much more and be much more frequent. This means that, instead of having a centralized communication effort, an IT department should make sure the different teams interact on a regular basis with other departments and not only formally but also informally to ensure good understanding

All this does not mean IT departments should not care about their image and their strategy nor that they should do everything by themselves : a deep analysis of the differentiators IT is able to provide is mandatory to define core and non-core domains and functions. Focus should be given to core activities and external providers should be used to minimize cost on non-core activities