Friday, August 24, 2007

Want to get closer to your business? Then move your chair.

One of the consistent themes in IT is the disconnect between the IT department and the business. There often develops a "People's Republic of IT" which tries, vainly, to lay down policies and pretend that it should be in charge of the important decisions and that "its our way or no-way" is a reasonable approach to take. Some organisations aren't as extreme as that but almost every company I've every worked in, or with, in my whole career missed a basic fundamental point about how people collaborate.


Simple eh? When people collaborate and work together they work person to person and interact with each other. Now the real challenge is to make that effective, sure you could have a phone conference or a meeting or a quick coffee and for some bits that really can work.

But if you have something where its critical that IT and the business are working in close step and working together to deliver things then there is really only one solution.


Again, pretty simple but something that IT folks seem to shy away from. In the book I cover how different services require different delivery models, and for some of these its essential that business and IT become one team. Sometimes document based communication is fine, sometimes a phone call or a meeting will do, but as a basic part of operations IT should be part of the business, not a people's republic.

If you need to move closer to your business, mix up the chairs so IT sits with the business not on its own.

Technorati Tags: ,


Simon Plant said...

Thats just crazy talk! Insinuating that by merely co-locating next to the business team you're supposed to be providing effective systems to is just like saying workshops achieve results because you bring people together to discuss an issue, or that special events like bids where folks get holed-up in a room until the job is done actually are the main mechanism for success??

Heresy. Is there an IT system that plans and brings all the chairs together by functional group? Are you still allowed to email those say behind you on critical issues?

James Taylor said...

More to it, obviously, including getting out from under the rock of writing everything in code the business cannot understand - check out this post

The EDM blog
My ebizQ blog
Author of Smart (Enough) Systems

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I have to say this is one of the most crazy postings I have read in recent years. I work for a tier one bank based next to traders on the trade floor. The amount of preasure and bad decisions that are made by being so close to business is a fundamental problem. Business is business and people from that background don't understand how to write software, all they want is something built yesterday and don't really care about all the things that make software reliabilable, reusable, etc.

I like your comments about SOA, but at the same time some of your thoughts on software development and very much out of touch with reality.



Steve Jones said...

Simon, I know its madness... but it might just work :)

James, certainly there is more to it, but its hard to learn the business language while IT sits in its ivory towers.

Anon - Glad you like the SOA bit, but on your concerns about the business folks "wanting it yesterday" this might come as a shock but from personal experience that tends to be because no-one has explained to them (effectively) the consequences of their approach. If you start working collaboratively with them and start making them aware of the realities of software delivery then you really can come up with a better approach. By abdicating responsibility and blaming the business (who at the end of the day pay the wages) then you really aren't helping to improve the situation and in fact are ensuring that it continues to be a nightmare.

Now part of the problem is often that IT folks don't get the coaching and training in "soft" skills and negotiation which means they tend to be steamrollered by those who are more forceful. This isn't an issue with sitting next to the business it is about the culture and training that goes into the IT department to help it cope with the business environment it is in.

I completely agree with you about the banking challenges, but not that talking less to the business will produce improvements.