A cog in the drive train of IT

The purpose of IT in an organisation is to help the organisation achieve output. That output might be widgets manufactured, students enrolled, or even an IT service.


(C) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/

To do so there are many people that work together in the machine that we call the IT organisation. Each cog in the machine has its role in delivering power to the rear wheels of the vehicle that is the enterprise.

There are many things that get in the way. I will over-extend the metaphor of a car drivetrain to try and describe some of the challenges.

Efficiency the ability os a system to deliver most of its input to its output. We are all familiar with those little things that make things inefficient. Endless meetings needed to get ‘everyone on board’ with an idea. The paperwork, the justification and re-justification required to get and keep budget. All those little things that take up time, but don’t add to the output. Those wheels spinning like fidget spinner, working hard but going nowhere fast.

The other side is effectiveness. There is no point delivering more power to the wheels if it simply causes the wheels to spin. or if the car isn’t heading in the right direction. The most highly tuned engine won’t help a mediocre driver like myself. The car will be slipping and sliding all over the place. So, a mechanism is needed to steer the car, and ensure the output goes in the right direction. I have written elsewhere about doing the wrong thing well. So often it isn’t the IT department can’t deliver, it doesn’t deliver what the business needs most. That said, the best driver in the world will struggle in an underpowered vehicle.

An an over optimised engine can’t adapt. The drag racer that can’t handle sharp bends, or the formula one car on a rally track. The IT department that is really good, but doesn’t stop to ask ’Should we be doing this?’ or ‘Is there a better way?’

Where do you sit? Do you see how what you do adds to the efficiency or effectiveness of the organisation? If your job were to be eliminated, how long before customers would notice?

Lastly, how aware of their role are the people you work with?

This is partly a management and culture issue, trying to install customer focus as a core value. And unfortunately, this required two things from management,

  1. to practice what they preach, and
  2. not just to do, but to be seen to have done

But what can you do as a lowly employee? How about you give two hoots about your job and find ways to keep adding value.

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