Recently, a new CIO shared frustration about a software integration project he had inherited that had gone haywire. Meeting after meeting, the CIO tried to get the project back on track until he finally called a halt to the whole thing. Rather than keep spending precious resources and time on salvaging the project, the CIO finally started asking a different question: “Was the effort doomed from the start?”
Corporate sales staff had decided to integrate a CRM tool across all of the disparate back-office systems to have enterprise-wide visibility to forecasts. This, of course, is not unusual, especially in today’s complex sales environment.
What was unusual was that other departments had not been consulted during any of the analysis and recommendation phases. The project had become a classic example of what can go wrong when a particular user group runs amok—demanding changes through integrated systems where change is not needed—or, in some instances impossible to implement.
The discussion was a not-so-subtle reminder about how much can go wrong in IT when IT is not at the table working through the solutions. While problems with systems can be identified by users, developing a solution is generally left for the IT experts. And yet, why are so many IT teams left out of system critical decision-making when they can help devise the most cost-effective, user-friendly solution?
One of the reasons is because IT staff are not seen as business leaders. And, yet, we are. But it is incumbent on us to help articulate this day-after-day with our non-IT colleagues. We should attend business meetings, read business journals, and make business a priority within our dialogue.
Otherwise, we will always end up like the new CIO—inheriting business “solutions” that become major IT problems.