IT: Why It Is Despised

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: CIO, Technology | Tags: , , , , |

IT jobsBy Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

The IT department is the most disliked unit in most organizations. A recent article on Forbes.com (Why Everyone Hates IT People) indicates that most corporate employees blame IT as the primary bottleneck for innovation and advancement. Can this be true? The majority can’t be wrong…right?

The article cites extended backlogs, long project cycle times, and onerous requirements documentation as the main culprits. Certainly, these things can contribute to business dissatisfaction with IT. I mean, every techie has probably worked with a business unit leader that keeps changing their mind or adding new requirements that are “critical” to the success of the project. In some of these cases, the IT project manager doesn’t have the wherewithal to cut off the stakeholder, push the new items to a future release, and contain scope creep. In other cases, the IT leadership permits the business unit to continue expanding their demands, creating an unending project cycle.

On April 5, 2012, I created a blog post discussing what I believe to be the primary reasons that IT projects fail. At the core, most functional business personnel don’t understand the role of technology or have the proper perspective for the purpose of technology in the operation. They also don’t appreciate the need for some pretty exhaustive analysis or discovery on the front end of a project so that the technology group can truly understand the business issue their trying to solve. So CIOs, IT executives, PMs, this is where your Business Analyst (BA) should earn the big bucks. They are the primary interface between the business and technology. A poor BA will lead projects that fail no matter how good the rest of the team of process is that’s in place. A great BA can overcome many of the weaknesses that exist on the project team or with getting the right level of face time and support from the functional business unit.

Don’t be categorized as the type of IT group in which “innovation dies.” Learn how to engage your business teams to set proper expectations, identify their true functional needs, and help to change the processes for business transformation.

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3 Responses to “IT: Why It Is Despised”

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This isn’t a trick question; it only seems be one. 🙂
First of all, the multiple choice Q in the poll needs work. If it’s a poll and poll results you seek and the choices offered are what you want folks to ponder… the proper question is:
In your experience, which of these factors harms IT projects the most.

Second of all, the adjective “IT” on “IT projects” is unnecessary. The core reason projects of all type fail is identical.

Lack of quality tools to overcome the lack of skills humans on, around, near the project have.

It’s a dirt simple principle. Increase the skills of the players and the quality of the tools play less of a role. And vice versa. The next game changer in project management will be a tool that let’s everyone on the project both do their work and interact with the project more like an online game than an online dredge (pardon the pun).

The next layer of the onion does get more interesting. Which skills?! The answer again is 2 fold. There are a set of fundamental development project skills that are universal no matter the project or the industry. And there are skills specific to industries. This is why so many retired military officers make such terrific project managers in the commercial world. Often they can easily be taught a specific domain to apply their finely honed project management skills to.

@DanFarfan

Hi Stephen,

2 things:

1- The link to the forbes article does not work.
2- I think that everyone hates IT because of two things:
a) mainly everyone who works for IT is a non-pleasant person to work with and
b) IT is the source of a major expense in any company.

Thanks PM Hut. The link is fixed. Can you really claim that “everyone” in IT is not pleasant? You may certainly have that perception, but it doesn’t make it correct. Since it is a common perception, though, there must be some underlying issue. I believe that its because IT doesn’t truly engage the rest of the business in most companies. In terms of being a major expense…sure it is, but does it deliver value. If it isn’t, great, find a way to bring value or get rid of IT entirely. I believe that it can and does bring value, so the expense is worth it. I’m sure retail sites are a major expense for most companies, but they bring value (more revenue than cost), which is why they work.


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