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Secret CIO: Stop Making Stupid Software Decisions
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hgolden913
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hgolden913,
User Rank: Strategist
12/15/2014 | 1:44:50 PM
The Necessary Long-Term View
I agree with your approach, but it will take time. At least you are getting started. So many CIOs still see their role as what I call "digital dial tone." The job is really far more. CIOs are in a position to lead their organizations into the future, but they must realize that they need to bring the business units along. This means developing subject matter experts who also understand what IT can do, and can separate sales talk from reality.

I favor outreach to business units to develop IT-savvy resources who are open to process improvements. IT should look at what is going on outside of IT and try to help change happen. For example, look at financial processes. Do you find a rat's nest of spreadsheets with little control? If so, this tells you that IT needs to help finance rationalize the process. However, IT must enable finance to own the problem and the solution, not simply take over and propose a huge project.

As long as IT is viewed as a cost center, it will be starved of resources. Business leaders must learn to see IT as integral to their organization and fund IT as part of their profit center. Getting to this point is the essential role of the CIO.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 10:52:52 AM
Re: The Necessary Long-Term View
"IT should look at what is going on outside of IT and try to help change happen."

@hgolden913: The reason why IT department guys are not popular with other departments (I've seen "don't get in my way" looks exchanged between business experts and IT guys more than often) is because IT guys work efficient, and they criticize anything that isn't as efficient as they are. Maybe some workplace ethics would make both of these departments to become level headed and contribute towards the development of business in the market.
hgolden913
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hgolden913,
User Rank: Strategist
12/30/2014 | 11:56:06 AM
Re: The Necessary Long-Term View
@sunitaT0: I've been on both sides of the fence. After math-comp sci major in college, I started as a computer programmer in a bank. I didn't understand banking or accounting. Some years later I studied accounting and became a CPA. Both IT and business people need to understand each other better. IT may be "efficient," but some IT people need to understand the business's needs better. For example, f I could make more money for the company by wasting computer resources, that's the right decision for the company, even if IT doesn't understand it. (Note: That isn't usually the trade-off.) The point is that IT and business need to work together to understand business needs and IT capabilities. Humility on both sides would help a lot.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 2:17:38 PM
Re: The Necessary Long-Term View
@hgolden913: I agree with you. Working with both of the sides must have helped you a lot in the industry. However I must tell you that this kind of collaboration are rarely seen due to frosty relations between departments.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2014 | 1:37:31 PM
Re: Stop Making Stupid Software Decisions
Happy to have your insight, John, and if I'm not mistaken, it sounds like I'm seeing a recurring theme in each of your points - all this IT investment is for naught if a) it doesn't solve the company's actual  business problems and b) the users don't invest in it, like it, and use it. That may sound like a deceptively obtuse point, but I actually think it's kind of simple. The idea that people (in your example, the LoB folks) who don't know how the rank and file employees are working (like those people at Plant A you mentioned), don't know what the real business problem they're trying to solve is, and just shove something down the pipeline anyway is all too common, but it's inviting failure. This is not a new phenomenon - the difference is, thanks to modern IT, there's no reason it has to happen anymore. The technology is all caught up, and we have to accept our responsibility as IT people if it's IT who is not.

One great suggestion I've heard before is to embed IT specialists in each other department or business unit, not unlike what you're suggesting. It was actually here on InformationWeek, I think, but it was a long time ago, I don't know if I can find the link. They'll have the specific responsibility of knowing what IT processes and technologies are currently in use at that business unit, as well as being responsible for coming up with innovations there. It's their job to be able to translate company-wide IT initiatives into a language their department can understand, as well as collaborating with the other embedded IT people to know how the business units work together, bridge the IT gaps between each other's departments,  and come up with new IT solutions that will help these departments work together and collaborate better, faster, and more easily. I liked that idea a lot.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 10:47:40 AM
Re: Stop Making Stupid Software Decisions
@xerox: No, you perfectly make sense. The reason why CIO's complain the kind of work environment hinders their ability to think is because they don't use the resources at their hand, and go by the book. In my experience, I've seen unorthodox practices in an IT company (that involved merging/swapping the roles of business experts and IT guys) have resulted in better performing of those particular departments that were involved in the experiment. 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 2:19:45 PM
Re: Stop Making Stupid Software Decisions
@SunitaT0: Not always does this experiment have good results. Since you yourself said that people exchange "don't come in my" stares, such kind of an experiment may crack the relationship between two departments completely. That would simply be disastrous for the company. 


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