The first article in this series of papers on best practices in informatics in the public sector, published in the previous issue of OptimumOnline, dealt with the informatics planning model. In this issue's paper, we deal with the problems created by the lack of a clear definition of informatics roles and responsibilities in the organizational structure, and we describe the key roles and responsibilities that must be put in place to effectively support informatics in the public sector.
The model informatics organizational structure is graphically illustrated in Diagram 1. In this organizational structure all informatics support functions are divided into four sets of responsibilities: help desk, application support, office system support, and server support. Each of these support functions is staffed with a manager and employees. All four informatics support managers report to an engagement manager who in turn reports to the highest management level in the branch. Detailed descriptions of these informatics support functions are outlined later in this article.
Diagram 1 - Model Public Sector Informatics Structure
A number of informatics roles and responsibilities must be carried out to effectively support the objectives and personal productivity activities of a typical public sector branch. The key committee and participants in the model informatics organization, along with their roles and responsibilities, are described below.
Informatics Advisory Committee (IAC)
The IAC includes appropriate representation from all stakeholders and ensures that branch informatics requirements and concerns are well represented. The primary purposes of this committee include:
- making recommendations on strategic issues and situations where there are competing priorities for informatics resources;
- reviewing, revising and recommending approval of the long range informatics plan to management;
- reviewing, revising and recommending approval of the annual informatics budgets to management;
- reviewing the progress of approved informatics services and projects based upon a quarterly status reports and providing recommendations to management where corrective action is required; and
- ensuring management and clients are kept well informed of any informatics activities and decisions rendered by the IAC.
Informatics Engagement Manager (EM)
The EM has the following responsibilities:
- providing informatics advice and support to senior management;
- developing and maintaining the long term and operational informatics plans/strategies;
- developing and maintaining a performance measurement function for all informatics support functions;
- maintaining, monitoring and reporting on informatics budget and recommending adjustments;
- developing career/training plans for all informatics staff;
- negotiating and implementing service level agreements and project agreements with clients;
- ensuring informatics roles/responsibilities and reporting relationships are clear and understood;
- ensuring all projects are consistent with relevant organizational informatics policies/standards/architectures and sound project management practices; and
- managing the informatics organization within a public sector branch, which includes, as a minimum:
- Server Support Specialist,
- Office System Specialist (OSS),
- Line of Business Specialists (LBS) for Production Applications, and
- Help Desk (HD).