Where IT Goes Wrong

IT people are very focused on the how, not on the what. The most common mistakes theyll make are errors caused by doing the wrong things, not by doing things wrong.

Tell IT people what you want to do, and you can almost see the gears turning in their heads as they evaluate alternative approaches and eventually come up with various options on how to accomplish your goals. IT people are so focused on the how, in fact, that the most common mistakes theyll make are errors caused by doing the wrong things not by doing things wrong. Thats why an IT strategy is so important to a business; its the only way to be sure that your IT organization is headed in the right direction.

In Chapter 2, I compare IT people to medical doctors, and in fact there are many similarities:

  • Both have in-depth knowledge of a technical specialty that goes beyond the knowledge held by everyone else. Both groups have to struggle to keep up with changing technology, techniques and best practices.
  • Both groups are on call to handle problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Both use a different language that can intimidate outsiders and act as a barrier to communication.
Boiling the IT Frog

Some of the worst difficulties in communicating with an IT organization are caused by differing definitions of nontechnical words. For example, IT people frequently use the word project to mean the software development part of a larger Project that includes everything necessary for the business deliverable: design, building, testing, documentation, training, implementation and infrastructure additions. Thus the completion date for a project may be viewed by IT as the completion of the software work. If you dont clarify the deliverable, then there will be a huge misunderstanding.

Similarly, an IT organization might commit to have some work done by the third quarter. The IT customer will assume this means July 1, but the IT organization will assume it means Sept. 30 at midnight.

Adapted with the authors permission from Boiling the IT Frog, by Harwell Thrasher (BookSurge Publishing, 2007).

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