Thursday, September 4, 2008

When To Stop Your IT Investments?

IT Success is All in the Approach

Long time, no post everyone! Sorry I have been MIA. Life has been hectic (brother off to college, promoted at work, knee issues with cycling, and building a restaurant reviews website/blog), but I'm starting to find a routine again.

As you all know, I am pro-IT. I think the opportunities Information Technology can bring a business and society as a whole are amazing and still an untapped resource that many businesses do not take advantage of because energies are focused elsewhere. But, in this post, we're talking about control IT costs because they can lose focus on the ultimate goal.

I was reading an article from Harvard Business Publishing that gave a very brief and succinct overview of IT costs and how to manage them. The article is by Susan Cramm, link here. We all have budgets that we need to try to stay in and sometimes when the goals are not clearly laid out, budgets are "bent". This is not good. IT investments are rarely cheap, but if your IT team and your vendors work well together uncovering how a solution will bring BENEFITS and RESULTS, the investment will be worthwhile.

However, I do disagree with Ms. Cramm's statement below:
The key to further, smart, cost reductions is to recognize the fact that, in general, companies spend too much on IT because they are unwilling to say "no" to IT-related requests. The path of least resistance seems to rule the day: Too many projects are funded, too many die a slow death, too much technology is procured, too many quality defects are tolerated, and users require too much hand holding.
Through my experience to date, a lot of businesses shut down IT projects/management without looking at what the project's goals are. A great example, your stressed out and over-stretched IT guy manages everything from email/spam management, security processes, phone systems, routers, network management, bandwidth allocation, data management, and puts out all the fires your fellow employees create. Now, any IT guru will say the problems they deal with the most is the nagging processes... email/spam. This results in the IT guy not being able to focus his efforts elsewhere. Imagine if you could pay your service provider to MANAGE your email/spam filters for you?! Your IT guy would thank you and he could focus on solving and creating solutions your business is facing. This project would not suffer a slow death. But, too many businesses are scared to let go of these projects because they are stuck on the idea they have to manage everything for it to work. Take off one of the hats you wear and give it to someone else.

Moving back to the main point of the article, sorry about the little tangent that isn't really applicable to the article. Having clearly defined goals are critical for project success. I recently took a Project Management course and having a PM can really help keep projects on course. Just something to think about.

At the end of the day, businesses need to look at the project's progress and see if the BENEFITS are becoming apparent. If they are not, cancel the project. If there are some delays, but the benefits are being seen, continue a little longer.

Finally, a lot of projects become out-of-hand because the full support from everyone is not there. A problem I see a lot of businesses facing is that only a few people see the benefit of the project and the rest could care less. As a result, people are not depending and routing on its success. It is more of a "status quo" mindset. If you're going to set strict deadlines, you better give the project your best effort. No half-bassing it.

What are your thoughts on this? How have you approached your projects in the past? How are you approaching them currently?

Like the article says how do you manage the "truth" when it comes to your projects?

~the GURU

1 comment:

high roller said...

I could bore you with all the specific specifications about the phone, but most users just want a phone that works.