Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interesting Software Thoughts: 8 Things We Hate About IT

It's interesting to step a bit back from the daily technical crunch and see how the world of IT is viewed from the outside at times.

A management guru  has a blog post  titled the same as the header.

The points listed are the following, as well as a few thoughts I formed while reading them:

1. IT Limits Managers' Authority.
2. They're Missing Adult Supervision: IT needs close supervision. Short feedback loops through iterations that produce results are the way to get it. Milestones and a kill switch is another requirement.
3. They're Financial Extortionists: It's scary to think about all the money wasted on the appalling track record of IT in general. But there's undoubtedly a shared responsibility there, both on the IT and general business side.
4. Their Projects Never End: Setting deadlines, having milestones and defining Done is essential in any task.
5. The Help Desk is Helpless: Software has bugs. Especially since it is often a conscious decision to release something when it's "good enough". I don't envy the help desk personnel in IT in general.
6. They Let Outsourcers Run Amok: I strongly doubt IT is the main driver in outsourcing!
7. IT is Stocked with Out-of-Date Geeks: With the rate IT is changing, this is a most truthful and dangerous statement. It takes a lot of effort to stay up to date on the technologies and practices of IT. The number of years a person has been in IT doesn't necessarily add up to the skill level of the person.
8. IT Never Has Good News: Too seldom, that's for sure!

So what do we need to succeed with IT projects?

  • We need close customer collaboration.
  • We need projects with short feedback loops.
  • We need sane requirements engineering.
  • We need to know what Done means.
  • We need the business side to be active in the entire process to deliver what they need.
  • We need quality in the development force. Such a simple task :)
  • We need companies that dare to change. Running IT the old fashioned waterfall-way didn't work very well, did it? Time to try something new.
  • We need to be careful with new technologies. If it's new and you don't run a spike, then shame on you.
  • We need developers with a vested interest in the projects success. Not just their own. The project must have priority over individuals. Heroic individuals is not the best approach for a project.
  • We need to build trust. Now that's a big one!
  • We need a hell of a lot more than I have listed here, but these just came from the top of my mind.

One thing is for sure. The challenge is not only on our side of the table. But we should help educate the business people we work with every day on how we can more readily succeed.

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