Things You Should Know Before You Launch a Project That Depends on IT

A month or so ago, on a busy day, I came across this ZDNet article on the Top 5 issues your IT staff wants to address but is afraid to tell you that I think everyone should read — twice — before embarking on any system modernization that will require the involvement of IT. For some of you, it might be a real eye-opener!

  • There is no history of the code.
    If your current application has been in place for five or more years, it has probably evolved substantially as a result of regular vendor upgrades and in-house customizations to meet your business needs. As support needs increased, and response times took priority over change management, tracking the changes (and who was responsible for them) fell by the wayside and the process of unraveling the underlying code is now likely as challenging as building the application from scratch.
  • We don’t know exactly how many applications we have or how they all work together!
    Applications make their way into organizations through procurement overrides, departmental purchases, trials, upgrades and, of course, open source. This treasure trove of technology makes an aerial view of the infrastructure nearly impossible to create. Chances are many departments don’t even know how many applications they are using or how they all interact. I can’t remember a single instance as a technology architect or consultant where I’ve asked for “all of the applications this product interacts with” or “all of the applications your department uses” and received a complete list the first time. Sometimes it’s only in the final phases of an RFQ when I’m building a list of detailed integration requirements and I’ll ask “so, where does this data get pushed to” only to find out that there’s yet one more application that has to be added to the list!
  • We’re actively seeking a new job.
    As the article points out, the average IT turnover rate is 22%. If you’re counting on a single resource to pull a project off, you’re in trouble! Also, there is probably a lack of interest among the millennium generation to work on older technologies just as there is often a lack of interest among the old-timers, only a few years away from retirement, to learn another new-fangled language that’s probably not going to reach the critical mass necessary to still be around in five years.
  • If you can’t prove the ROI, we’re not on your side.
    Your IT staff knows that faster, stronger, cheaper are BS marketing terms. Before they commit their overworked behinds to yet another project, they want to see real benefits in terms of skills, cost savings, and time savings using before and after metrics generated by a third party on similar projects at other firms.
  • We’re not mind readers … you need to share you vision.
    Your IT people are not going to accept that this resulted from long-term planning that was designed to anticipate the next three, five, or seven years of the organization’s technology needs just because you told them it would. Remember, they are the experts in technology, not you. If you want them to share your vision, and get behind the project, you need to involve them in the strategy discussions. They can help you build the right infrastructure for your business, but only if you let them.