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Fork model of IT

As your organization grows larger, with multiple entities, sometimes, lines of business, and even multiple companies in a business group, the question of how do we govern or manage IT becomes priority. Different businesses adopt different models. We find centralized IT in some companies and completely federated IT in others. There is a possibility that all of them might not be happy with the model they have. The conceptual way to look at IT could be the Fork Model of IT.

  1. Handle: The handle of the fork is the solid, heaviest part, which provides the required force to dig into food. In an enterprise IT context, the handle is everything that diversebusinesses or functions require which are common i.e., infrastructure, network, data centers, cloud capabilities, analytics platforms, etc. These are the things in which an enterprise should invest altogether, allow everyone to use and share the cost, based on their usage. On the applications front, the corporate applications like travel, HR, intranet etc, which can be platformed and enabled for reuse, should be kept with the corporate and can be looked at as the handle.
  2. Back and Neck: This is the flatter part just above the points. These provide the width to each of the points. These are typically the enterprise application capabilities like SAP,CRM, analytics applications, content management system or low-code system. These systems lend themselves to be adopted by any of the functions giving them the necessary capabilities.

3. Tines: The tines of the fork are the ones that dig in wide into the food and sachet tube. Each of the tines is a business function like sales, production, supply chain, etc, which dig

into the value chain and extract value for the business. Each of them requires an individual focus and sharpness of its own without being saddled by any other consideration.

These Tines need to be provided the sharpness by bringing in the best of the capabilities in that particular function. For example, even when you are using common platforms, they need to be supported with the dedicated application capacity, the dedicated LMN capacity, the external consultant support, the necessary subject matter expertise

and a certain amount of freedom for them to spend in sharpening the needle.

Translating the fork into IT deliverables


1. Handle: 
All large infrastructure contracts, cloud contracts, etc should be in the domain of the corporate IT. At an enterprise level, sometimes these capabilities get wrapped into large outsourcing programs which should be done at a central level.

The concept should be paper use where a service catalogue gets developed and the individual cost centers are built as per their usage at a macro level that is, may be at a plant level.

2. Back and Neck: This is where we need to have architecture COEs like ERP COE, CRM COE, supply chain COE, share point COE, or content management COE, to push forward the architecture and ensure that the platforms are always ready and reusable.

3. Tines: The projects need to be defined at a functional level where the functional KPIs impacted, should be clearly baselined and a target should be outlined. The role of the handle and the body, that is, all the infrastructure and platforms, should be to enable the reuse of these capabilities for the project team to be able to drive the project faster. For example, the servers need to be enabled quickly, the designs need to be reviewed and approved fast and the technical resolution coming in quickly from the COEs.

The Fork Model of IT provides you a conceptual framework of what to centralize, what to develop as a reusable platform and what to delegate completely to a business function. You can adopt and use it in your own context to drive the dialogue and governance around a federal structure of IT.

I hope you find it useful. Please leave your comments here, or in the author’s LinkedIn Posts.

The article has been written by Jagdish Belwal, Founder and CEO, Jagdish Belwal Advisory

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