Challenges of managing IT system in an MNC environment

Standardization versus customization

Regional IT tends to focus more on standardization (e.g. deploy the same system across all the markets), this will help them to manage the whole system easier (manage = maintenance + upgrade), save the cost (by leveraging the scale)

However, there are many cases where local market has some specific needs which can't be addressed by the standard system, here comes the interesting issue. We have 2 choices

  • Wait for the so-called "standard solution" from regional. And this can take time (especially if you're in some developing market like ASEAN - all the new stuffs will be deployed in somewhere else first)

  • Engage local vendor to come out with local solution. This is the best solution from the local market perspective, and the worst solution from the regional perspective. To regional, those are just the potential "legacy application" in the future, and they hate it.

I usually find myself in this situation, and this is the guideline I use to tackle it

  • Get the exact timeline from regional team for "regional solution", if it's still tolerable to local market, then we wait

  • If not, get local solution, but make sure that we're not locked-in to their solution and still can migrate to "regional solution" once it arrives

  • Inform both parties (regional IT and local business) about the decision, pro and con, and get their alignment

What's good ?

  • The business side doesn't care where the solution came from, they just need something that works. So, by delivering the local solution, I address their pain-points and make them believe in IT team. This would help us a lot in deploying regional projects later on.

  • To regional IT team, they will feel relieve when we tell them something along this line : "OK, we're deploying this local solution, but we will sure migrate to your solution when it arrives. Don't worry dude"

What's not good ?

It takes time to do all this, to align different expectation from both sides (local business team - give me something that works versus regional team - just use this, it's standard).

And that's the challenging (and somehow interesting) things to deal with when you manage an IT system in an MNC environment

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Jamie Larson