I work with IT departments all the time, small and large. I've been on the inside (corporate IT), the outside (a business unit), and even the out-outside (a 3rd party consultant).
There's one thing I've noticed that never seems to change: people hate IT. They talk about their IT department like an ex- girlfriend or boyfriend. I remember one extreme case where a business unit disliked IT so much they actually had their own internet service put in, and bought their own laptops. Or another case, where people started using their own email accounts instead of using the company email (and no, I'm not talking about Hillary Clinton).
That leaves us here, with IT's network, laptops, and company email packed in a box to the left. The business throwing those things out and moving forward with its own services, hardware, and personal email. And it begs the question: Why all the hate for IT? What went wrong?
Why all the hate for IT?
Through years of experience, I've finally found the answer: Betrayal.
It starts with the adage of "broad knowledge vs deep knowledge". Broad knowledge is essential in IT due to a wide range of responsibilities. These broad knowledge IT workers also have knowledge of the company's industry, and have wonderful visions of how technology can help advance the business.
But these visions often end in betrayal because of a failure to execute. Business units invest trust, time, and money into IT solutions that get delayed, go over budget, don't meet their promises, or simply never come to be. It happens all the time, and the end result is the business unit feeling betrayed. Trust deteriorates. Investment in IT is weakened.
What went wrong?
This failure to execute happens — 9 times out of 10 — due to a lack of deep knowledge. I'm sure the following scenarios are all too familiar:
- IT tries to build an application for electronic data entry. The application works, but looks outdated and clunky, and the users shun it.
- IT tries to cut costs in marketing by hosting the websites. The websites all go down under heavy traffic and the IT staff can't bring them back up.
- IT tries to build an online portal for customers and partners. The project never gets off the ground due to lack of attention and low priority.
- Et cetera, so on, and so forth...
How do we fix it?
Often times the best way to fix this failure to execute is to simply bring in the right "deep knowledge" for the job. Sometimes this means hiring top talent for a specific role, even if that talent isn't a perfect cultural fit. Other times it means engaging with an agency or consultant to properly execute the project and give it the attention it needs.
The point being, while "broad knowledge" is essential in running the IT department, "deep knowledge" is just as essential in executing a project successfully. More often than not, these type of "deep knowledge" people are very passionate about what they do and can bring a huge advantage to the table.
So I ask you, dear reader, to think about this the next time your company's IT department is engaged in a project. Be cognizant of what could cause a failure to execute for your specific project, and find the right resources to help before you start. Your IT department does not seek to betray — it just needs to be better equipped to serve your needs.