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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MBA = Massively Brainwashed Arse

Is it just me, or does it seem like the whole IT supporting and enabling the business strategy has become more like business people talking about business things that have business implications, oh and go do something technologically impossible to satisfy the business stuff we just talked about in our business meeting. Without some tech savvy folks in the respected levels of business, companies are heading for IT disasters as they role out complex systems they have little understanding of and then outsource the management of those systems.

Take for example an effort to control costs in IT spending driven by haphazard user requests. The business solution is to sit the users down and get them to forecast their requirements for the year and then create a single IT budget. It sounds like a good solution; however, without some technical knowledge, the budget is a shot in the dark and the initial problem is not solved.

If your child asks for money for a bicycle do you just give him $500 to buy the bike? What if he buys a $100 bike and spends the other $400 on pot and while he's high riding his cheap bike, he crashes it into a tree and breaks it. He comes asking for money again to repair the bike because there was no initial accountability; no assumption of risk on his part that the bike he wanted to purchase was of sound quality and would work as advertised.

Instead, use an approach that shares responsibility for financial and technical decisions throughout the stakeholders. Ask your son to do some research. He doesn't know anything about bikes, but of course, neither do you. However, when he gets a bike, you can teach him to ride it.

End users don't know the first thing about storage and network requirements, just as we in IT have no insight into the latest and greatest piece of specialized vendor software that the user must have to increase his department's productivity. Put the onus on the user to develop a plan by researching the vendors and preparing a proposal for the IT budget committee. Allow IT staff to flush out the technical details so a comprehensive plan (not a detailed design at this early phase) is developed so money can be intelligently and accurately assigned.

If a user has an IT budget request that simply demands an application rather than provides a 'plan' for adoption, the IT department needs to make a lot of assumptions on behalf of the requester and I believe that will end in a disappointed customer and a poorly implemented solution. Instead, if some of the due diligence - which I call planning (not design), but simple due diligence planning and research - were pushed back to the customer so they made an educated and informative presentation request to the IT budgeting process, the end product would more align with the end user's vision and ultimately be more supportable since the end user was a stakeholder from the onset.

As managers move more and more towards business and further away from technology, it seems they fail to realize that ultimately, technology drives all business. You don't need to know how to configure a router or deploy a Storage Area Network, but you better damn well know the application whose deployment you just authorized will require both.

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