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Bridging the divide

Bridging the divide

It's time to learn how to deal with this other digital divide that is responsible for many failed IT initiatives - part 2.

Last issue I discussed the divide that often exists between an IT shop and the rest of the organisation. I suggested more than any other factor, it is this divide that is responsible for failed IT initiatives. There are a number of reasons for this divide, namely: Fear of IT, ignorance, poor communication, governance, training and remuneration.

Let's look at each of these in turn and see what we can do to deal with them.

Fear

Fear really stems from a lack of understanding by business people of what IT is and how it works. As IT professionals it is incumbent on all of us to allay rather than prey on those fears. We can do that in a number of ways:

Speak English, not techno-babble! You will not impress anyone by using language that only you understand. They could do the same to you in their field of expertise if they choose to.

Explain IT choices in conceptual and strategic business terms, not in low level detail - no one cares about that stuff except other IT professionals.

<p/>Ignorance<p/>The ignorance I am referring to here is not ignorance of the IT domain, but ignorance of processes of engagement between IT and the business that could generate better results.

There are well-known proven methodologies and best practices in a number of areas which sit at the intersection between IT people and business people. Train up the appropriate people in disciplines such as project management and requirements management.

Poor communication

This problem is also easily solved through the application of a bit of discipline and structure. The implementation of standard reporting frameworks will allow everyone involved to understand what to expect and the frequency with which they can expect it. The use of appropriate methodologies will help to ensure the artefacts of communication which are passed between IT and the business contain the necessary level of information to be relevant to both sides of the discussion.

Governance

If there is one factor that really stands out, this is it. How many times have we all seen IT issues crop up where no one seems to be responsible? Establish a robust governance framework and it is amazing how many other problems magically fall into place when there is nowhere to hide!

Training Establishing frameworks and methodologies is great, but only if people understand them and know how to apply them. Don't expect people can magically apply concepts that they have only seen in a one-hour PowerPoint presentation!

Remuneration

This one tends to only rear its head when things are going off the rails. We do pretty well in the IT industry compared to others and when things are going off the rails I have seen business people get very upset about the salaries paid to IT staff.

I suppose if we do some of the things I mentioned above, we can keep things from going off the rails and this factor will stay quiet. Barring that, I am not sure there is a more effective stance we can adopt given the nature of a capitalist labour market economy and the laws of supply and demand.

Any IT professionals volunteering to take a pay cut?

Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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