Thursday, March 11, 2010

Do Your Employees Hate the IT Department?

We all know the joking, and sometimes snide comments about the IT department that come out around the water-cooler. Fredric Paul on the Enterprise Efficiency blog relates an interesting story that highlights how easily the CIO and the IT team can make themselves not only the butt of jokes, but truly disliked. Fredric's example is a light-hearted, but imagine the result if IT reacted the same way to a new process improvement solution proposed by a senior manager.

While around a collection of after conference IT bods, Fredric's relates his story:
What bugged me, though, was that no one -- not one person -- bothered to ask what the business benefit might be of using iPhones in the enterprise. It didn't even occur to them to think about the possible benefits of the device to the users or to the company, just about the hassles it might cause them!
But then came the kicker. Someone asked what they would do if the CEO of the company asked for one. There was a moment of silent consideration until one guy said caustically: "Tell him, 'Don't be a child.' "

It is true, unfortunately, that IT gets a tough job. There are not only the day to day hassles of nursing aging systems through another crisis, but the constant whining from stupid users that their laptop is not booting, or the VPN is slow. So add to that the need to add another device or worse still, enterprise application such as BPM to their support burden, and its no wonder that people in IT look and act sour.

Early in my consulting career, I was responsible for a large document management / workflow design and deployment. The CIO, stakeholders and the vendor's team were sitting around a conference table discussing why IT felt it was unable to stick to the project plan for deployment of the system, despite the fact that the plan had been out there for months and my team was doing the installations. A red mist came down, and I let-rip at the CIO and stakeholders. Something along the lines of me assigning responsibility for the project failing to "IT's constant stalling for time", or something equally ridiculous came out of my mouth. Fortunately for me, I did not burn through all the goodwill that had been built to that point, though it was a learning experience for me.

The fact is that IT has a tough job, juggling many things. As much as I was unprofessional for letting rip in a boardroom, I see that often the lack of communication from IT teams is equally 'difficult' for the business. We know your IT job is tough (but so is mine, so is the senior underwriter's, so is the job of the 150 people out there in the office), so give me some reasons why we can't support this system you are so vehemently opposing and maybe we can work out a solution. Let's put it in the cloud or use a SaaS vendor. The fact is that you are not making friends by rejecting every request for a new solution that will positively benefit the business. Help them understand what it will take for you to say 'yes', and not only will the business have something that makes their working lives better, they may even thank you for it!

A post from the Improving It blog

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ZephyrProcess said...

In other words, the answer much preferable to a simple "No," is the more subtle "Yes--provided that..."

Phil Ayres said...

That sounds like a good start to me!