The business press is loaded with books and articles highlighting the rather tempestuous relationship between “the Business” and “IT.” In 8 Things We Hate About IT: How to Move Beyond the Frustrations to Form a New Partnership with IT, Susan Cramm puts a pretty good wrapper around the office workflow issues I hear from business people and the frustrations they have about “traditional” IT:
- Business hates when IT is overly bureaucratic and control oriented.
- Business hates when IT consists of condescending techies who don’t listen.
- Business hates when IT is reactive rather than proactive.
- Business hates when IT proposes “deluxe” when “good enough” will do.
- Business hates when IT doesn’t deliver on time.
- Business hates when IT doesn’t understand the true needs of the business.
- Business hates when IT doesn’t support innovation.
- Business hates when IT inhibits business change.
Now of course, there really ought to be a parallel list. After all, it takes two to create a relationship – or lack thereof. If I were to summarize the things I hear from IT organizations about the Business side, the list might look something like this:
- IT hates when the Business initiates a project and then walks away from further involvement until the project is launched. And then complains about the result.
- IT hates when the Business tosses a set of overly complex, conflicting and vague requirements into our lap and expects us to sort things out.
- IT hates when the Business comes up with major systems ideas after “playing around on their iPad.”
- IT hates when the Business refuses to prioritize.
- IT hates when the Business implements a SaaS solution without consulting us – or in fact, anyone.
- IT hates when the Business surprises us.
- IT hates when the Business forces us to do things “now” that we know we will regret.
- IT hates when the Business comes to us and asks us to resolve ID-10-T errors (figure it out).
Do things always need to continue like this? Is there any way to break this cycle?
I think that the cloud, and especially a predictable document platform for office workflows, can go a long way toward taking some of the day-to-day tactical tensions out of the Business-IT relationship. It is a pragmatic tool:
- It provides a framework for the Business to solve its own problems.
- It provides a platform for the Business to assume responsibility for improvements in the processes it knows best.
- It pushes responsibility and accountability for process improvement to the Business, where it belongs.
The cumulative impact of these seemingly modest Business-driven improvements sets a pattern of employee empowerment that carries over into a more strategic relationship with IT. It frees IT to support innovations in the platform itself – and how it connects with other strategic platforms – rather than being preoccupied with tactical distractions.
At the end of the movie Casablanca, after a long story of antagonism, Rick Blaine tells Capt. Louis Renault, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
The cloud (and document management and workflow cloud services like DocuWare Cloud) creates an opportunity for IT to do what it does best – deliver and support platforms – and for the Business to do the same – identify and implement improvements in their business.
And perhaps move beyond the mutually-defeating “8 things we hate” and create the “beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
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