IT Best Practices

Time to Stop Bashing IT Operations

All internal IT operations are not created equal. And yet time and again, you’ll hear business-side people who bash IT ops (as an undifferentiated whole) for blocking the precious innovation of a company. Jonathan Feldman makes a distinction in an article for InformationWeek.

Stability and Workability at Stake

The idea of “IT bashing” isn’t completely unfounded. After all, there are plenty of cases that point to a lack of customer focus and an embrace of outdated technologies or methodologies. Yet Feldman, who has worked in both traditional ops spaces as well as innovation spaces, cites an often overlooked truism about IT – that a functional operations is the stake that holds the tent of innovation down, making it stable and workable for the future and for IT’s customers:

I’m defending those practical people who are focused on the rhythmic, trouble-free fulfillment of IT’s everyday details: making sure that we have enough capacity before we need it (people on the help desk, for example), ensuring that we responsibly plan before we execute (making sure that we don’t cut over a new system before business stakeholders have tested out critical functions), and so on.

The “data center union” as Feldman calls them (those who are always going to say no in the face of change) are not the same as the operations people who want to innovate but who are concerned with the fate of the end user.

An Exercise in Bridge Burning

He cites an example where his IT team was ready to scrap an old system and move to the cloud. Should his department have entirely ditched the old platform to motivate staff into changing?  An earnest operations person adamantly opposed such a “bridge burning” exercise, and in the end this paid off big. The innovative new cloud-based disaster recovery was full of snags, and delivery had to be delayed, with a certain critical system supported in the interim. The operations person’s decision saved money, but more importantly, prevented an unacceptable loss of service to the business.

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