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12 Bad Habits that Slow IT to a Crawl

You never see a sports team with a sloth or a snail as the mascot. That is because people seldom want to celebrate slowness. In an article for InfoWorld, Bob Lewis identifies a whole dozen bad habits IT has picked up that are slowing it down. Once you address these concerns, IT can finally become the mascot that the business needs, oversized fuzzy costume and all:

  1. Faulty governance
  2. Multitasking
  3. Bloated projects
  4. Manual provisioning
  5. Favoring interfaces over integration
  6. Suppressing shadow IT
  7. Insisting on “100 percent” solutions
  8. Creating data warehouses
  9. Emphasizing TCO
  10. Forcing innovators into the “high fidelity” IT architecture
  11. Allowing a culture of complacency
  12. Establishing an arm’s length business/IT relationship

Finding Your Inner Cheetah

Governance becomes the enemy when committees, especially big committees with conflicting agendas, slow execution to a crawl. Important decisions must not have to wait on (perhaps) monthly meetings, and Lewis recommends creating a new sort of governance where company culture itself does the heavy lifting in such matters. Multitasking by comparison poses the opposite problem; you think you are getting a lot done, but you are actually sacrificing a lot of efficiency switching between tasks. An enterprise program management office could cut down on this by ensuring a project must be fully staffed in order to launch.

Projects themselves become a problem when they are too big, since we have all heard by now how often large projects fail. Scrum and DevOps could provide a more incremental way to accomplish major tasks. As for manual provisioning, the truth is that the cloud can usually grant a full environment to a development team faster than IT itself can. Go ahead and allow it. While you are at it, go ahead and allow some shadow IT too, as it exists specifically to meet business needs and can be thought of as free outsourcing. Just keep tabs on it and thing long-term how you can remove the need for it.

Lewis describes IT’s amalgamation of interfaces as a “spider web” of new functionalities added over time, and this has to change too:

Clean up the interface tangle with a well-engineered integration system, and project teams speed up, testing takes less time, and deployments go more smoothly.

Then take it a step further: Turn “Information Technology” into “Integration Systems,” whose job is to deliver reliable access to the company’s core applications portfolio through standard APIs that expose data and functionality as secure, well-defined services.

No solution IT ever devises will account for every possible error, and so you need to roll the dice and decide when “good enough” is enough. And when it comes to the challenge of keeping data warehouse projects on schedule, Lewis casually points to NoSQL. A less welcome acronym is TCO, “total cost of ownership,” which when emphasized too heavily will look at cutting cost at the expense of cutting needed functionality too.

Ultimately, the gist of Lewis’s argument is that IT needs to be open to change, lest it stifle its own innovation through too much process and too much business-as-usual. This is how a mascot needs to operate. You can read the original article here: http://www.infoworld.com/article/2982389/it-management/12-bad-habits-slow-it.html

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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