IT managers are doers. Yes, they’re also thinkers and planners, but they get their hands dirty with implementing information and technology policies serve the business objectives. All too often, in the high-pressure environment of IT, popular IT practices labelled as “best practices” are employed at the expense of thorough research and proof-of-concept testing. These then fail to produce the desired result or they produce the desired result but have unintended damaging side-effects.
Some of these best practices are now being highlighted in the changing landscape of office politics, post-industrial service delivery targets, and a better understanding of customer service. Here are some of the problematic IT practices used to date:
1. Always obey your customer
An experienced IT manager wrote in an article for TechRepublic saying, “Learn to say ‘No'”. He puts that piece of advice on the top of his list. More than saying “No” once in a while, it’s up to you as an IT manager to manage the expectation of those you’ll be serving. InfoWorld mentions this is where the traditional belief that everyone is your customer is no longer helpful. IT should be in collaboration with the rest of the business, on equal footing. By working together, communication channels are open and creates room for the IT manager to explain why certain tasks cannot be accomplished or what will be required if they are to be done.
2. Treat SLAs like contracts
Speaking of relationships, hard and fast SLAs that result in nit-picking are not going to be productive in the short term and will end up eroding trust in the long term. “[Contracts are used] to define when there’s no trust and something goes seriously wrong”, writes Bob Lewis at InfoWorld. Gartner also recommends eliminating these two IT practices that will help cut down on red tape and re-enforce IT’s credibility in the business:
- Abandon IT’s unbalanced support between front and back office
- Abandon level 1, 2, and 3 tech support
3. Treat users like idiots
But respect should be a two-way street. Very often IT professionals “…become bitter, jaded people who rarely have anything nice or positive to say”, writes IT manager, Jack Wallen. By treating your users with respect, which includes not telling stories about how “dumb” they are, you will retain your credibility and will go a long way towards cementing a thriving working relationship.
4. Use IT chargeback systems
According to Gartner, here’s another IT practice proving to be counter-productive. IT chargeback systems only serve to alienate the rest of the business from using information technology. It causes bickering over the billing of exact gigahertz and gigabytes used when, after all, the money moved between cost centres belongs to the same company.
5. Run projects that don’t serve the business
Chartering IT projects without a clear business objective could result in the project being completed only to discover that millions have been wasted. Gartner weighs in with recommending that IT projects that support neither the business objectives nor the income statement be terminated.
To further streamline project spending, they recommend letting go of unfunded projects and, although not backed financially, these will end up draining other resources that could be better spent towards increasing profitability.