Sunday, May 29, 2011

on IT systems vs. people (or, too much to tweet, volume one)

I've got a thought which I can't adequately express in 140 characters, in response to a couple of tweets I just read:

@thomkearney: IMO we should spend less on IT systems per se and more on making sure those systems actually contribute to org objectives

@scilib: @thomkearney we need to stop thinking IT systems can solve problems. People solve problems. $ on systems without $ on people = #fail

I look at it this way. You never want to build a solution that doesn't solve a problem, or that solves the wrong problem. Your IM/IT unit is there to serve your business, and business problems require business solutions. Any business solution has to start with a requirements analysis that depends on the subject matter experts (SMEs) in the problem area. Developing business solutions is new ground for a lot of SMEs and other business partners, ground that we have walked many times before. We are (or we should be) there to help you solve the problem effectively and efficiently, using our knowledge of IM/IT capacity, policy and regulatory considerations (particularly with respect to IM), lessons learned from past projects, and our often-overlooked knowledge of the whole business.

We shouldn't be driving "IT projects", we should be advising on and contributing to "business projects" where IM/IT is just one part of the puzzle.

You mean that's not the way everyone does it? :)


Mark said...

Realize you're already aware of this but the point still needs to be stressed,

"Your IM/IT unit is there to serve your business, and business problems require business solutions"

A LOT of IT orgs have forgotten this. The business is the reason for an orgs existence. HR/finance/IT/the mail room all support the core business.

IT for IT's sake is not the way forward...

Jeff said...

You're right, of course, and my last line was a wink and a nod to that reality. I think it's one of the major factors contributing to the all too common view of IM/IT as a cost centre instead of a value add.

I've perceived the same behaviour in other service-oriented units and I wonder whether getting so focused on how you deliver service that you forget why you're there is simply an occupational hazard for those lines of work. I say "perceived" because I think saying "they forget why they're here" when you're not getting the service you expect is too easy, speaking as a member of a service unit that's been dealing with diminished capacity for quite some time.