Problems for CIO / CEO these days is: who is going to deliver for them? They are working with every one; their own IT team, software vendors, system integrators, Enterprise app vendors etc.,. But the feedback from businesses is “not meeting expectations”! While there is a lot of noise being made about how IT departments won’t be there in the future etc. the real issue is not the IT departments alone. Vendors however big, large/small also mess up the projects big time. Large corporations have policies like not to engage more than a few vendors which makes the problem worse if those vendors are incapable of delivery.
The problem is a huge headache for IT leaders as they are struggling to meet business requirements. Businesses are suffering too as they are not able to keep up with the competition as they would like to do (ideally they would want to beat the competition by providing cutting-edge products and services but let’s stick to meeting the competitions’ offerings).
While there is no immediate solution to this conundrum the frustration is getting higher and higher. Heads roll and new leaders emerge but still the problem persists. If we get some more detail look into the problems we could see some light and the end of the long tunnel..
1. Stagnant IT : You have a huge IT setup but the issue is IT is not really updating itself to meet the demands of business / competition.
2. Misleading Vendors : Outsourcing vendors / Offshore vendors not able to give you a clear picture and their focus is to increase billing and unfortunately it does not directly benefit delivery.
3. Hype / mania etc.. Big product companies / Analyst firms create lot of hype to sell their products and CIOs fall prey to their sponsored studies etc.. Lots of examples could be given for this .. SOA, BPM etc..
4. Niche companies charging you a lot but after giving a rosy picture for some time suddenly put their hands up and say we can’t deliver
Solutions are not easy to implement.. but is there any other way? Let’s start with the internal IT problem. I think for the most of the issues mentioned above, internal IT is a strong reason. Many authors / bloggers have pointed out that the complacency of internal IT is the main source of delivery problems with outsourcing vendors. Most of the internal IT employees follow a hands off approach when they get the work done by vendors. This leads vendors to do what ever they want without getting any attention. They deliver some working version of the code but due the lack of skills or energy at the source that code gets into production without proper review / rework.
Then the question comes about how to strengthen the internal IT.. Lots of companies are doing it already.. Hiring top talent (this is a bigger problem – to be discussed separately), having highly engaged employees, providing them various benefits etc..,. All these are OK to some extent but the real problem is unwillingness of employees to learn i.e. continuously learn. It all comes down to this.. How to create a continuous learning culture in the organization?
If the managers and leads are technically equipped to handle vendors, most of the delivery problems could be identified very early in the cycle. Companies should find ways to encourage employees to keep themselves updated and also provide opportunities to them to learn / practice their newly acquired skills. Human Resources and Training departments should have this as a top priority. Making people aware of the fact that it is absolutely important for them to learn to stay on the job. Companies should also setup a good firm wide mentoring program to facilitate the enablement of continuous learning culture.
If an organization wants to make itself a continuous learning organization it has to start form the top. You can’t expect low level associates to convert when most of the seniors are sitting on their laurels. They should show the way, they need to engage themselves into learning action as well. I have seen many executives don’t even read technology news regularly.
A learning IT organization starting from CIO to the trainee will be deliver I think.. What do you think?