Solving the Mystery of IT Avoidance

Across a great many organizations, users often find it hard to trust their own internal information technology (IT) group. Frequently, the user community feels compelled to try any possible option to solve issues that effectively avoids the usage of its own IT group.

This avoidance can mean “hidden” IT projects done by internal people possessing some technology savvy. These projects are outside the official group, or accomplished with completely external resources that are hired in.

Stealth IT Projects Can Lead to Confusion and Redundancy

Such strategies can lead to confusion or even complete chaos when such hidden solutions need enhancements, or inclusion within more legitimate IT efforts. Synergies are lost as one-off projects proliferate, many times overlapping each other’s solutions.

Sadly, much of the blame for this lack of trust rests squarely on the shoulders of the management within those internal IT groups.

Users have needs that include tasks they must perform and goals that must be accomplished. And, quite often, the users’ interactions with IT leave them feeling unsatisfied. Sometimes, problems are easily understood, i.e., budgets are tight, resources are limited, and the average user desires may not rise to the level of a priority for the IT area.

Perhaps, the users have been “burned” before. They may have experienced IT management staff that appears to play games with them. IT may have assumed they understood the users’ needs, and created a solution, only to find their IT solution missed the mark. Instead of addressing that issue, IT management may have tried to save face by saying that “more use cases” were needed; or attempted to convince the user that multiple additional phases were always necessary, so that obviously this first phase does not provide the users all that they were asking for. Some IT groups may claim to have embraced agile techniques, yet still keep user communities at arm’s reach, and demand high ceremony infinitely detailed business cases, requirements, and sign-offs.

Times are changing. Information technology has become far too critical to the success of most organizations to allow managers to survive using a “fake it until you make it” approach. IT needs to be in sync with their user community, and learn to understand the business as well as the users they work with. The days of “perception is reality,” where failures can be semantically reframed and labeled as successes, are nearly over. When the delivery date comes due, long-winded expositions of more use cases being necessary, only succeeds in earning mistrust.

IT and Business Staff Working Hand-in-Hand Provide Organizations with the Optimal Toolset

While it is always hard, honesty is still the best policy. It is through honesty that credibility may be established. The hard unvarnished truth sets a foundation upon which proper decisions can be made to move the business forward. If trust is lacking, steps need to be taken to bring everyone into alignment. Often, such a process will involve inventorying business needs and obtaining some level of realistic initial estimates of resource costs to solve those needs, then reconciling those needs against available resources and prioritizing work. In the long run, IT and functional business staff working hand-in-hand provide the business with the optimal toolset. IT solutions can often drive increases in an organization’s bottom line.

The bottom-line-impact that is often ignored is that the consequence means that many resources involved should be “free.” Business cases should be able to point out the expected revenue increases, and those expectations can be leveraged to “pay” for development of the solution. Of course, those estimates too must be realistic; if they do not materialize, that will be a negative impact on corporate performance.

Business can learn to trust IT, and become involved with IT to create the solutions that the business desires. Such endeavors lead not only to solutions the business will be happy with, but also to an increase in morale and satisfaction for everyone.