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5/15/2015
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10 Ways IT Drives Everyone Else Crazy

Managers are frustrated with IT. A study shows where they think IT is failing them.
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(Image: Hartwig HKD via Flickr)

(Image: Hartwig HKD via Flickr)

IT is wasting the time of managers and employees alike, according to a study conducted by Lawless Research on behalf of ServiceNow. In fact, so much time is being wasted, it can be measured in days per week, rather than in minutes. Managers blame time-consuming, frustrating work processes, many of which involve technology.

The study surveyed 915 managers at US and UK companies with at least 500 employees and asked them about their biggest pain points with productivity.

In the course of our reporting at InformationWeek, we hear a lot from CIOs and other IT executives about how IT is being increasingly called upon to "transform the business." This study begs the question of whether the best way to "transform" might be to enable the business to run with as little friction as possible. The problem, according to the end users surveyed by Lawless Research, is that IT has not automated the processes that make the business work. All this time users are spending on getting day-to-day work done is time they can't spend on transforming the business itself.

Of course, it isn't all IT's fault. Consumerization of IT may be leading end users to have unrealistic expectations about how technology can work in the enterprise. Sure, it is easy to pay for a latte at Starbucks with your smartphone. Should it be that easy to create a purchase order at work, or process a major procurement decision? It is easy to set up a shopping profile on Amazon. Is it good security to set up a new hire's account just as quickly?

Even if you assume a level of impatience on the part of your users, the Lawless study paints a picture of a set of antiquated IT services not fit for agile business in a mobile world. It is clear that at least some of the fault for the inefficiencies reported by users falls on IT.

Check out some of the most troubling findings from the study, and then decide for yourself what falls on IT and what falls on unrealistic user expectations. And tell us, in the comments section below, whether you've ever fallen victim to these productivity killers yourself.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2015 | 8:23:11 AM
Maybe I'm biased
I'm not saying that anything covered here isn't annoying or that IT can't do something about these things in some capacity but aside from "Automation Is Rare" I'd say that most of these fall under the famous that's the way we've always done it line or IT doesn't have much say in the process.  It happens very often that a company says we need to fix this then when they realize that it takes time, effort and money they back away quickly.  While IT is easy to blame because if they were given the time and budget they could properly address the issue but it's rarely the IT team making that call.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2015 | 12:13:25 PM
Re: Maybe I'm biased
@SaneIT- I get that. The fault goes all around. But here's the thing: there are two ways this gets fixed. IT steps up and gets persistent about it or they wait for the business to get so fed up they hire a vendor without them. That's how shadow IT spreads. 

It used to be that only It could fix it and so you'd get around to it. Now, there are enough vendors out there that even if the solutions aren't good, they are easily purchased. Is that what we want?
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
5/18/2015 | 8:38:37 AM
Re: Maybe I'm biased
I'm not saying that IT shouldn't address it but I do want to talk about the shadow IT issue for a bit.  What I see happening with shadow IT most often is that it blows up in face of the person/group that is trying to go around IT.  They start out with something simple like an app that was never intended for corporate use, they start using it then realize that while it works great for them that it doesn't scale, at all and they are stuck in an even worse place now.  So then they start looking at bigger solutions, this leads down one of two paths, either they contract someone to deliver a bigger software solution that just barely works, only works for their team and introduces a bunch of new problems or they realize that when they started out that they never thought about how every department is interconnected and how they would get all of the pieces tied together.  I think the biggest problem with shadow IT is that some people think that what works for them and their grocery list at home can handle all the business functions of a medium sized company.  Sometimes there is a reason that things don't move at the speed of an iPhone app and usually that reason is that what a company does is much more complex than what an individual does with their day. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/18/2015 | 1:21:35 PM
Re: Maybe I'm biased
@SaneIt- It is true that shadow IT often runs into trouble. But as SaaS solutions get easier and easier, i wonder if it will always be the case.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
5/19/2015 | 8:33:47 AM
Re: Maybe I'm biased
Even with SaaS what will happen or does tend to happen from what I've seen is that one person or group defines what they want without talking to anyone else in the company so you end up with a stand alone solution that no one else can use and it adds a layer of complexity for everyone else.  It's just one of those things I guess, everyone knows what they want but not how anyone else works so they do what they thinks is best for them and they make a mess.  Maybe that's why IT departments exist even if people don't like going through them to get things done.  If a company does spin up an SaaS solution and someone is paying for it then the question has to be how much more would it cost to do it right and make it fit everyone and would the departments be willing to split the costs.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2015 | 9:42:11 AM
Re: Maybe I'm biased
@SaneIT,

"It happens very often that a company says we need to fix this then when they realize that it takes time, effort and money they back away quickly."

Very true. Many times when asked the cost, folks shy away. I still can't believe that some companies are in IE8, and the only reason they haven't been able to migrate is because of the cost incurred in certifying applications are compatible.

It's easy to justificy a business enhancement led by technology since there's a ROI, but for IT enhancement, managers and decisions start raising eye browns because there really isn't a tangible ROI (unless a study like the one in this article is shown)

Here's an example of what happens when you automate a process: A department reached out to me since they wanted to see if there's a way to improve tracking time and efforts accross a project portfolio. Using sharepoint a built a tool to track time and effort per each resource per project, and created reports that roll things up easilly. The end result is that a resource that spent all her time just tracking folks time has know been able to move forward and actually take on projects, and is no longer dealing with admin tasks.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2015 | 11:00:22 PM
Re: Maybe I'm biased
@saneIT very well said. When it comes to the budget and time it's always the business's' call.  If it can be done in 1 hour they will happy. However if it needs time they will come and say "IT is useless". 
JG@DIB
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[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2015 | 11:06:17 AM
Is IT Really the Problem Here?
Meetings, use of phone, use of email, etc. are not necessarily the "fault" of IT. The way many of the activities listed here (in-boarding employees, purchase orders, etc.) are carried out is usually a product of business user decisions on how they want to do it, not because IT could not or would not help.

Often when IT wants to modernize/automate an activity, we run into so many "requirements" of the business user to NOT change their underlying business processes that it hamstrings the eventual system that is or can be developed. Levels of complexity, insistence on every rule having an exception, etc. cause systems to bog down under the sheer weight of code required to handle the non-vanilla additional "have-to-haves" the business users add.

We have also found that, even when an automated capability is provided, the end users still don't improve their productivity in doing the "soft" tasks mentioned as desirable, such as increasing sales or spending more time promoting or innovating the business.

The main area of IT mentioned in the survey is IT support, which, at least at my company, is a totally different area than development and maintenance of enterprise systems.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2015 | 12:15:41 PM
Re: Is IT Really the Problem Here?
@[email protected] Well, i don't disagree with anything you're saying. I have not doubt you do get bogged down in all of that and the progress seems minimal and the process is wasteful.

My only answer is to try again. Giving up on a process automatically makes it fail. Walking in and saying "let's avoidn the mistakes we made last time" is the way change happens. 

But I totally sympathize.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2015 | 9:32:31 AM
Re: Is IT Really the Problem Here?
@[email protected],

I share your comments. I lost count of how many time what is considered an "enhancement" project leads to countless hours trying determine every single exception rule, work around or manual override.

Many times business want to increase productivity but aren't willing to actually take a look at there own process and determine where changes can be implemented that actually lead to increased productivity.

At my current assignment, only after decades of beating around the bush did they decide to replace there legacy system. And it's only because of a PM that refusesdto keep the status quou and challenged management did they consider a third party vendor solution and where willing to review and revise there process so that it's ongoing support doesn't require custom coding.
rrobson752
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rrobson752,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2015 | 11:11:50 AM
Re: Is IT Really the Problem Here?
JG:  Amen!  It seems that in too many companies, developers spend 20% of the time solving the real business problem and the rest of the effort is squandered "paving the cowpath" of existing, entrenched business processes
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2015 | 11:18:32 AM
It Costs to Prove Costs
I agree Adinistrative Task are a big annoyance. Not sure it is IT fault however when other managers are demanding paperwork so they can cost out every dime.

And Tech Vendors are probably also to blame, the entire chain is an abusive time waste, just so some Manager can attempt to prove (sarcasm inserted here ) IT is a cost center.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2015 | 12:17:14 PM
Re: It Costs to Prove Costs
@Technocrati- I generally agree with you it isn't entirely IT's fault. But I just cringe at the idea that someone has to pick up a phone or send an email to get a purchase order. Surely, there is some low hanging fruit we can all deal with.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2015 | 12:52:07 PM
Nice systems
I'm struggling to understand how these companies with 500 or more employees have such poor systems. A company that size should have decent ERP in place and also some IT Help system. But they haven't automated creating a purchase order and getting it approved? Really?

I wonder how much of this doesn't really fall on these managers who were interviewed? I'm assuming this is mid mgmt if they are creating POs. I've met so many of these guys who are clueless how business processes work. They are simply administrators, supervisors, people people. I got a chuckle out of the complaint about admin tasks taking their time. Many I've met that constitutes 100% of why they exist. :-)

Now, I work for much smaller biz unit in a global company, no one can hide here locally behind bureaucracy. But we have systems. I'm a little confused on how much automation you can put in bringing on a new employee. There are a number of variables and user types, I don't see how it would not require some discussion with hiring manager. But process can start by entering a Help ticket to get the conversation started.

Also a little hazy on what "marketing services" are in this context?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2015 | 1:01:26 PM
Re: Nice systems
@TerryB- I think with onboarding they are looking for self-service. Instead of saying "Joe Schmoe is starting Wednesday and he will need access to x, y, and z" in an email they want to be able to have some sort of service that they can just type it one spot so they don't have to inform multiple IT people. 

For instance, I've worked in companies where to get me set up a manager had to email IT support to get me a computer, HR to get me a desk, and mutiple admins to get me accounts set up for various systems. I think they'd like one place where they can put Jane Schmoe's start date and what kind of access she needs.

As for marketing services, we're talking web development, design, data, etc.

I agree with you that the automation numbers seemed really low. I'm wondering if they are responding not to the system itself but the business reality. Maybe it is a case where using the system isn't as easy as the email or that the system doesn't work half the time without the email poke at someone. Something like that.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2015 | 9:35:31 AM
Re: Nice systems
@David,

At my current place of employment, we're streamlined the process of onboarding to the point that from the day the new hire steps in the office, he/she is fully 100% setup in 24 hours or less (laptop, credentials, system overview, HR tasks, etc).

The main reason we accomplished this is because we pulled together all leassons learned, automated where possible, but the major win was the prep work. As you mention emails had to go out to get things set up, but we'd try to do this with as much anticipation as possible.

The result is having new hires be productive by the next day of starting.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/18/2015 | 1:29:19 PM
Re: Nice systems
@mejiac- And here's the interesting thing. I think there is every reason for you to be happy that the day after they walk into the office they are ready to work. Seems like a very reasonable time. From a manager's point of view that is 24 hours too slow.

I can speak personally to this. The first day I walked onto a job a few years ago, I had no laptop or access to any system. My boss expected me, however, to have these things and even scheduled meetings and work for the first day. I ended up access things through my phone and using credentials from another person to do work until i had a laptop. 

Bad security. Bad work conditions. But my manager needed me instantly. Is IT right and the manager wrong? Or is it the other way? I don't know. But that is the disconnect. 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
5/18/2015 | 1:46:26 PM
Re: Nice systems
@David Wagner,

Thank you for your comment.

I do agree that there's definitly a disconnect, specially when the expectation is not realistic.

From what I've seen, this really depends on the are that you're engaging. Within IT, everybody is aware that there's a ramp up period, that can be as short as a day to even a couple of weeks before a person is fully productive.

Other times, the hiring manager is so disconnected from how IT procurement runs, that he assumes that on the day the employee starts, things should be up and running straight of the bat.

There really isn't a clear answer, and many times this does lead the new hire to re-think the job offer since they're already being told there late on a deliverable.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2015 | 1:41:36 PM
Re: Nice systems
@David - I just returned to work from a short medical leave (remember the iSocks we discussed? They could have saved me from this!) and the day of my return was day we rolled out a firm-wide CRM product (Dyanmics).  I am the IS Trainer, so I was scheduled to run a class on the hour, every hour.  The problem was, IS locked me out of the system to ensure I wouldn't use my remote access on my leave.

It took our corporate location 6 hours to get around to reactivating my account, even though it was as simple as letting me know what they had changed my temporary password to.  This happened even though they had all the paperwork and were warned a full week in advance of when I'd be back.  Apparently some approval process has to be completed by HR at Corporate, then at our local HR office, then something has to happen in PeopleSoft, then Corporate IS gets involved.

I had to enlist the help of trainers in other offices to do webinars with the people in my office instead.  I just sat in and watched.  Truly it was embarrasing, especially with the VIPs we had in attendance.  
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2015 | 2:03:06 PM
Re: Nice systems
@vnewman2- Welcome back. Sorry about the injury. Glad it has healed. Sorry about the access issue. To me, that is a great story of how both IT and the business are at fault and not working together. Somehow someone decided this kind of "Security" was needed. But it seems neither effective, efficient, or secure. So now everyone looks dumb and the blame will undoubtedly shift around until it stops randomly like a roulette wheel. this is what a CIO is for, right? To help push through all of that and show leadership.
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
5/16/2015 | 11:05:52 AM
Who'd have thought it?
Whining managers!  Sheesh!
ANON1243441910735
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ANON1243441910735,
User Rank: Strategist
5/16/2015 | 11:28:21 AM
Speaking of IT inefficiency...
You split a single news article into *12* pages so that we'd have to be exposed to 12 different advertisements! Which brings us to the First Law of Systems Analysis: Nothing exists without a reason. Inefficient bureaucracies exist because they permit the creation and perpetuation of personal fiefdoms and ensure job security. Yes, we could make things more efficient. But a lot of people with minimal skills would end up unemployed.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/18/2015 | 1:19:59 PM
Re: Speaking of IT inefficiency...
@anon- Trust me when I say that I didn't decide to split anything because of advertising. I split it because we've been told by many that it is the way they prefer to digest complicated information. Had I taken this really long article and piled it onto one page it would have been an overwhelming mess of numbers. We have been told by many people that when we have a large amount of data in one article they prefer to see it broken up.

I'm sure there are many ways to break it up into useful, digestable and easily read bits. This way seems to be one of the popular ways in which to do it for our readers and those all over the internet.

As for advertising, yes, it is on every page of the site. That's a necessary part of the internet. I am sorry this choice wasn't the way you wanted the information.
ANON1243441910735
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ANON1243441910735,
User Rank: Strategist
5/16/2015 | 11:39:15 AM
Another thought:
Let me throw another idea out here: Service requests, POs, and other paperwork are an acknowledgement that work must be done by somebody to achieve a desired result. Yes, IT services should be as easy and seamless as FedEx and Amazon. But people *pay* for these services! I design and build databases for a living, and it amazes me how many people, even in IT, think that databases are created magically, overnight, by elves. People want IT services to be instantly and magically available whenever they need them, but they don't want to pay for them, or acknowledge that cost and effort is required to provide them.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2015 | 10:56:44 PM
Re: Another thought:
I agree. At the same time they think everything will work with a one button click. Therefore they expect it to have all the features in one.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/18/2015 | 1:24:13 PM
Re: Another thought:
@anon- True enough on the magic elves front. But I think the disconnect come sin from the point of view that the business *is* paying for IT. It wants to know what it is getting for that cost. It is, of course, up to It leaders to do a better job of explaining what you can get at various budgeting levels. And showing how automating a certain task might lead to a better ROI.
Mark532010
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Mark532010,
User Rank: Moderator
5/18/2015 | 1:57:48 PM
Re: Another thought:
It is interesting how PO's are a reoccuring theme. It is hard to imagine how the PO process makes managers unhappy, I am guessing it is the amount of time it takes or the number of checks and balances they must go through (detailed itemization, authorization, loading dock receipts, etc.)

Managers tend to forget many of those checks and balances were put in for a reason. These systems prevent unscrupulous employee theft or prevent lawsuits due to lack of information.

Automated purchasing systems can help with the process, but are not a magic-bullet solution, just as automated-help desk software doesn't suddenly make the tech department more efficient.

It is obviously a very real problem, but I don't think sending in a PO by email is the source of frustration
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2015 | 1:07:36 PM
Re: Another thought:
Agree :-) Everybody wants easy ways then when there is a compromise it's the IT dept.

Why 12345 is the most popular password? It's easy.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2015 | 11:43:48 PM
IT procurement
Just a thought. Do you think it's good to have own IT procurement team? Otherwise the regular administration team will take ages to complete a task. 
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
5/18/2015 | 9:48:57 AM
Who Really Has Control?
I am amazed in this day and age how little top level executives understand about how their own business runs.  It's shown over and over again in the TV show Undercover Boss.  If they can't understand the business operation it's not so amazing how even less these top level executives understand about IT utilization.  These are the people in control of how the IT money is spent and IT priorities. Their focus is purely on the dollars so it is not surprising the end result is a lot of unhappy employees blaming IT for their whose. 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
5/18/2015 | 1:29:16 PM
This whole study is laughable...
"Let's go to managers and ask them who we blame for all the company inefficiencies and see who they blame...and let's seed this question by putting IT in the mix"...ugh. This is another example of horrible study/poll data. Half of these problems are organizational, not even IT's area - administration, meetings, phone calls? Maybe they are using phone calls because the MANAGERS won't approve the automation tools necessary. As for bringing on new employees and processing purchase orders, there are so many questions (legal and technical) to be answered for these two areas that they, I don't know, HAVE THEIR OWN DEPARTMENT!? However, they asked MANAGERS who don't have to bother with the mountain of paperwork required for legal and legislative reasons, so they have to blame someone. This is just common sense people, no need to spend the time and money on a study...

I think most of us reading these articles already know how to increase efficiencies with IT - but until managers and executives stop looking at IT as a cost center, they will never get them implemented. Can IT do better? I don't think so, given the numerous limitations (legal, financial, temporal) we are required to operate under.

I also don't think anyone would be surprised that POs and new hires are two of the most frustrating areas in administration - how is that IT's fault again?

The only way to make managers see the light is through meetings to explain what we are trying to do - which they also listed as a huge waste of time. However, most managers spend most of their time there, so who is really wasting the company's time again??
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
5/21/2015 | 4:48:01 PM
ah the war
You should have another article: '10 Ways Everyone Else Drive IT Crazy'
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2015 | 12:24:55 PM
Re: ah the war
@hho927- Ha! I think every shaow IT article we do is that article. But I'll see what I can throw together to help you guys. :)
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2015 | 8:10:24 AM
There will always be admin work
As a non manager I always assumed that admin work was a part of the job description for managers. In fact I thought it was most of the reason for managers. While a company can automate a lot of paper forms to computer generated forms with some of the fields already filled out or the ability to search the electronic records instead of having to go through a ton of filing cabinets, admin work os part of large companies. IT can't change that by itself. Just because you've automated a form does not mean someone in authority doesn't need to fill out the proper information, check it over and sign off on it. Without the human eye on admin work important processes could have serious consequences. For managers out there, considering admin work isn't going to go away, how much time do you think you should be spending on admin work?
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