IT: we’re the people that the organization loves to hate. We usurp large portions of budget and spend it on a bunch of technical infrastructure that most of our colleagues within the company don’t understand. We pitch technical solutions that are supposed to help people get their job done better, but when the solutions fail, it seems we just can’t get there fast enough to fix them. We at thought it might be of interest to share some opinions on how to keep IT sensible, and maybe improve our perception as corporate citizens in the process.

Important points to consider:

Let the organization do the driving. With few exceptions, the IT part of your corporation is a cost center. We’re really not the reason why the organization exists. Thus, it is our role to support the organization in making the customer product better. Whether you’re improving information accessibility, reducing administrative costs to reduce the product price, or improving the access control of the information that you protect for your customers, technical operation is not the reason why you’re there. Let them tell you what they need to improve your customer experience. It’s our job to figure out how you can best deliver that. Keep your business customer involved throughout the deployment of necessary technology implementations. If the business community understands why you’re spending millions of dollars on a project, it may help keep an ill-fated perception at bay. If your organization is thought to be squandering a lot of money on projects that don’t really seem to deliver any business value, your budgets will be heavily scrutinized, and could result in a large amount of “gamesmanship” in attempting to obtain the level of funding necessary to operate an effective organization. Empower through understanding. When you’re working through the budget process, make sure you’re focusing on the return on investment, as far as the business is concerned. WHY does this decision make sense? Is this going to help us improve our infrastructure management efficiency (resulting in lower cost of ownership)? Maybe it will help us provide stronger assurance to our customers that we safeguard their information assets just as we all would our personally protected data. The bottom line is, human nature tends to dictate that people are intimidated by that which they don’t understand. Help them understand, to a reasonable level, what the new solution is going to deliver. They don’t have to understand it to the code level, as they’re not going to have to support it. But it’s not unreasonable to make sure that the organization is educated on the value add proposition of the solution. If users understand that the new multi-million dollar initiative for “Identity Management” is going to enable them to use the same credentials all the way across the environment, they will cheer your arrival. But if they think you’re just spending large amounts of money to add complexity to the enterprise (and make no mistake, identity infrastructure can be quite complex), expect to meet a lot of resistance. Don't underestimate the progress that can be achieved when working in partnership with your organization. But if there's no transparency -- that is, if the project is shrouded in excessive complexity with little demonstrable benefit to the business, you will have to expend much of your energy in your interactions with your colleagues. Next time, we'll cover how to choose technology to keep costs reasonable.