Roles and Responsibilities | Roles and ResponsibilitiesORGANIZATION STRUCTURE

Make sure roles and responsibilities are clear and that time or labor is not wasted in handoffs or duplication. For example, doing a better job on requirement definitions can save time in programming and reprogramming. Review the roles and responsibilities of employees as well as where they spend their time. Determine if you can shift any tasks to a lower skilled and less-expensive employee. For example, a company has four systems administrators that each spends 25 percent of their time doing security-related administration. By moving security administration to the help desk and having it done by a lower cost individual, the company is able to either eliminate one system administrator position or assign other respon sibilities to them. Providing additional responsibilities for a lower level person also provides an opportunity for career growth.
Top Tip 1: Core competencies

"We identified six or seven skills or functions that we wanted as core competencies. We benchmarked the skill set with job families. We standardized the work with repeatable functions, tiers of work, and cross trained. We created centers of expertise that leveraged best practices across teams rather than trying to centralize everything."
—Malcolm McRoberts
Deluxe Corporation

Consider focusing the most expensive resources. For example, one company initially had developers doing development and testing. As developers cost more than testers, they centralized testing within a quality group and reduced overall costs. As shown in Figure 1, among the tasks within a typical IT department are a few tasks that require a high level of expertise. Many more tasks require lower expertise. By reviewing your jobs and job definitions, you may be able to reconfigure responsibilities to ensure the higher paid employees are focusing on the high-expertise tasks and leaving the lower expertise tasks to lower paid employees.

Figure 1: Tasks in an IT department
Alternatively, it also may be less expensive to eliminate lower salary administration individuals if a higher level person can complete the work much faster and at a lower cost. For example, one company eliminated two lower salary administration individuals and had one higher-level person do the work of two people. This was accomplished by automating some functions and performing the tasks more efficiently.
Top Tip 2: Broader, more experienced roles

"We need to reduce staff to address budget cuts, while increasing competencies. We need individuals with multiple, broad, and high-level skill. This will improve service delivery and reduce overall costs."
—Lynn Willenbring
City of Minneapolis

Top Tip 3: Outsource PC configuration

"When implementing new PCs in 500 centers, we contracted with the vendor to configure the PCs rather than configuring them ourselves. The vendor ghosted the image on the PC before delivering. We outsourced the legwork to the vendor and saved time."
—Sara Braziller
Jenny Craig (former)

Another alternative to consider is to have roles defined for broader and more experienced individuals. For example, you may be able to have three higher level people with broad skill sets do the work of five lower level, more specialized resources.
Look for work to eliminate. Determine if you can automate any roles and responsibilities with technology. Although an initial investment is required, it saves on long-term costs and labor. As mentioned in Chapter 6, software for password resets can automate a time-consuming and nonvalue-added function.
Right size the organization and job definitions to fit the size organization. For example, one company has a small IT group but has several functions sized for a large IT shop, as they had three QA testers.


If supported by the company, enforcing a policy requiring unpaid time off provides short-term cost reduction. Although it has an impact on employee morale, recognizing that the alternative is layoffs helps gain employees’ acceptance. It can be a scheduling challenge, as IT provides coverage for the business, so you will need to rotate unpaid days off so that key employees are not gone at the same time. Alternatively, you could set a time frame for the number of days off that each employee must take as long as you approve and stagger the requests. Due to their unique skill sets, many employees in IT are often on call for off-hour problems and it can get dicey if you need to contact them on their forced, unpaid day off. This would be a good detail to communicate in advance. Project schedules and deadlines are also impacted and would need to be revisited. Of course, delaying projects would delay benefit realization as well, so even this option has ramifications. Employees that cannot afford the day off may also look for other employment options and a negative impact to morale is a distinct possibility.
Consider temporary staff reductions by offering sabbaticals, long-term time off, or vacations without pay. IT employees who have been working extra hours, those wanting to go back to school, or those starting a family may find this to be an attractive option. You can negotiate items such as keeping benefits and health coverage in exchange for occasional support, if needed. The employee often returns with increased energy, motivation, and productivity for a win-win solution.
Top Tip 1: Primary and secondary responsibilities

"You need to have a primary and a secondary person for every application. Make sure the secondary person is as knowledgeable as the primary. You need to plan now for the eventuality of future layoffs or reductions."
—Colleen Mlecoch
Amherst H. Wilder Foundation