Does the Business Think IT is a Black Art?
October 23, 2012

Zubair Aleem

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Unfortunately most do and I’m hoping that this BLOG illustrates the point. I had a series of meetings recently with a senior finance director for a Central Government organization in the UK. His problem was simple; due to government cuts every department was being asked to show its value.

After a few meetings the board were convinced that measuring application performance was a good KPI to measure. But they voiced their challenge - how to get the IT director to work with them.

IT Director and His Excuses

The meeting with the IT director went as expected. His board had asked him to look at something that would help the organization, but not in his interest. Most people are afraid of things they cannot control, and this was no exception.

“We have too many applications. We are not a commercial organization. Not sure if we have the budget for this.”

The reasons flowed like water. And we’ve heard them all before.

The Board Cannot Enforce KPIs on IT

After going back to the FD, he said there was very little he could do as IT was a "Black Art" and they did not understand it. The IT director was able to carry on measuring server availability with CPU and HDD performance. It would seem IT are not responsible for the performance of the applications for the end users. If they were, they would be measured against it.

The Last Pitch

The final meeting with the finance director was just to remind him of how ridiculous the scenario was. Would he ever run a credit control department with the KPI of customers contacted as opposed to debt turnaround, or run a planning department where the KPI was to update budgets rather than bring people in on budget? No.

The Solution - Mobilize the Masses

Let’s come to politics because that is what we are playing here. We all know how opinion polls dictate who stays in power. Do wrong by the people we take care of and they will force change. Let’s use this in the work environment - surveys are a quick opinion poll.

Run a well structured and very short survey for your users asking their subjective views on how the application is performing and its impact on their workload. No doubt very subjective - however very powerful when trying to introduce change - and that is what this all about.

Once acknowledged the problem exists, the IT director has nowhere to go. He will be forced to implement systems to monitor this situation of perceived poor performance - as without it, it just cannot be improved - and this is what we all want, isn’t it?

Zubair Aleem is Managing Director of Quadnet Services.

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