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As Bad as It Gets

By Frank Hayes
April 28, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Times are tough. Budgets are tight. Patience is short. We're faced with underfunded projects, understaffed operations and underappreciated challenges. The goal of getting IT right -- making sure our technology works, and works for the benefit of the business -- has never been tougher to accomplish.
Fortunately, one thing is still easy: screwing up.
What? You've forgotten how? Never fear! Just commit this list of a baker's dozen tips to memory -- or clip it out and keep it handy -- and you'll never be short of bad ideas again:
Assume. Assume you know what users need. Assume you know what managers expect. Assume you'll have no problems. Assume you'll catch up when the schedule slides. Assume no problems will show up in testing. Assume no one will mind all your assumptions. Why should they?
Expect. Expect support from management. Expect perfection from vendors. Expect clear specifications from users. Expect flawless execution from the IT staff. Hey, it could happen -- so why not expect it?
Overpromise. Paint an improbably beautiful picture of glitch-free hardware, bug-free software and friction-free networks. Set an early delivery date. Make the list of features long. Keep expectations high. What else will spur you to do your best work?
Complicate. Avoid straightforward designs. Sneer at simple solutions. Encourage complexity. Who's going to respect technology that anyone can understand?
Alienate. Alienate the users who can explain to you what your systems need to do for them. Alienate the business managers whose budgets you'll spend. Alienate senior management, from whom all funding flows. What do you need anyone's cooperation for anyway?
Experiment. Users make the best guinea pigs. Production systems make the best testbeds. Untried technology offers its greatest rewards in mission-critical applications. When your original plans don't work out and the deadline gets near, why not give something completely untested a shot?
Deny. Deny responsibility. Deny promises you made. Deny failure. Deny the limits of your staff, your systems and your own abilities. Deny what's obvious to everyone else. Who should they believe -- you, or their own lying eyes?
Change. Variety is the spice of life, and everyone loves something new. Change what users see on their screens. Change their passwords. Change what gets blocked by your filtering software. Change your help desk hours. Change your procedures. Change the rules. What's wrong with these fuddy-duddies -- can't they get out of their rut?
Procrastinate. Delay that status meeting. Push back that code review. Put off those patches and upgrades and audits. Isn't there always time to get things done at the last minute -- and if

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