Restructuring of the ECB's information technology function

5 November 2003

Since 1994 significant efforts have been made to establish the core infrastructures and applications required for the successful launch of Stage Three of EMU and the introduction of the euro. During this time, the Information Technology (IT) areas of both the European Monetary Institute (EMI) and the European Central Bank (ECB) have met the deadlines set, and the IT systems of the ECB and European System of Central Banks (ESCB) have proven to be sound and robust. The reliability of these systems is largely a result of the decision to allocate staff to the operations, maintenance and support of the ECB and ESCB applications. However, the consequence of this necessary action was that fewer resources were available for project development.

In 2002, the ECB decided to review the way Information Systems (IS) services are delivered, with a view to assessing the current organisation, structure and effectiveness of the ECB's Information Systems delivery and to giving guidance on its future direction. In January 2003 the ECB selected an external company to assist in this review and to prepare a report.

In July 2003 the ECB's Executive Board agreed on four main sets of recommendations, as identified in the report, that would lead to a strategic redirection of IS delivery in the ECB. First, the ECB-wide IT demand and portfolio management focusing on an appropriate prioritisation and on IT resource and budget allocation will be strengthened. Second, the Directorate General Information Systems (DG-IS) will be realigned in its organisation and skill-mix in order to focus on enhancing project management and delivery capabilities. Accordingly, DG-IS staff will concentrate more on in-house project management and delivery skills to cope with the growing IT project demand from the business areas and the ESCB. Third, the ECB will focus more on establishing and enforcing common IT architecture standards in order to reduce the complexity and maintenance cost of the IT landscape. Finally, the ECB will reassess the sourcing options for the IT operational, support and infrastructure activities. A feasibility study of such options is currently under way. If some functions are outsourced, the ECB has assured staff that any migration of staff members to jobs outside the ECB would be voluntary. As was reiterated and communicated to all DG-IS staff, the ECB has decided that there will be no forced termination of staff contracts on account of this process.

Due to this new organisational structure and change of focus towards enhancing project skills and delivery, DG-IS is currently undergoing a major transition process. From the outset, a concerted effort has been made to ensure that DG-IS staff has been fully informed. Various actions have been taken, including:

  • the full disclosure (16 July 2003) and presentation (18 July 2003) of the report to all DG-IS staff;
  • a presentation to all DG-IS staff of the process of transition to the new organisational structure (25 September 2003);
  • a presentation to all DG-IS staff of the final details of the new organisational structure (10 October 2003).

In addition, continuous information has been provided by e-mail and via a dedicated intranet site (including a "latest news" section) with up-to-date information.

A committee comprising a Member of the Executive Board and four members of senior management of the ECB is leading the implementation process.

Most recently, individual meetings have been arranged with all DG-IS staff to inform them about their role in the new organisational structure, to explain the background to the decisions and to seek staff feedback. The assignment of staff to the new structure was completed on 3 November 2003.

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