Insourcing Is The New Outsourcing For IT - InformationWeek

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Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
6/18/2008
11:20 AM
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Insourcing Is The New Outsourcing For IT

Faced with scarce resources, IT staff have several options: hire more employees, hire contractors, send the work out-of-house or offshore. But IT managers may be overlooking a useful technical resource right under their collective noses: business users.

Faced with scarce resources, IT staff have several options: hire more employees, hire contractors, send the work out-of-house or offshore. But IT managers may be overlooking a useful technical resource right under their collective noses: business users.Say what? The business side of the house is the source of the pressure on those scarce resources (in most cases). This came up during a recent conversation I had with Bill Lucchini, VP and GM of Inuit QuickBase and Alex Chriss, manager of business development and channel sales. Mostly, we talked about QuickBase, Intuit's custom business application platform, but -- as it often does in these conversations -- the issue tension between business and IT came up.

BillLucchini
Bill Lucchini

AlexChriss
Alex Chriss

Lucchini's point about insourcing, and he wasn't using the term in the Thomas Friedman, "The World is Flat" sense was that this approach allows IT take a leadership role and in essence teach business users how to fish rather than simply feeding them. In researching QuickBase clients, they found that business users often wanted the applications they built and customized to fly under the IT radar (there was a concern that once IT started looking at larger security issues and interoperability, they'd lose the nimble, accessible qualities that they liked/needed).

Anecdotally, this scenario rings true -- business users are bringing Web 2.0 applications into the workplace. Here's an example, the photos in this blog post are hosted on Flickr (because it's quicker and easier than using the in-house publishing tool to host an image). Rather than trying to stop this behavior, IT could encourage it, but within the larger IT strategy.

In Lucchini's scenario, a business user comes to IT with a request. Rather than adding it the queue of projects (after the usual case and consensus building) or explaining why it's impossible (or ridiculous), IT puts the ball back in the business user's court by providing them with tools and resources to meet their need. A business user can configure a Web 2.0 or SaaS application and they're in a better position to understand the business problem that prompted the request in the first place anyway. Though this scenario does cede some control to business users, it keeps IT in control of the playground -- a potential flaw: it assumes that business users and IT talk to each other (and that's not always true).

* * *

And speaking of Intuit, checkout the competing viewpoints of QuickBooks suitability for growing smaller businesses in a discussion with Mike Braun of Intacct and Angus Thomson of Intuit.

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