Monday, August 30, 2010

Not Changing Really Isn’t an Option

"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." ~W. Edwards Deming
No matter how much we try to resist it, change is all but guaranteed. Even in a recession, change continues to roll along in the IT space, even if we would rather not invest at this time: Vendors continue to churn out updates to their software, support contracts continue to come due, warranties continue to expire…
One key understanding that needs to be developed with management, especially in this economy, is that there is a certain degree of change that will be externally forced upon the organization by the past application choices they have made.
This is due to a number of factors within the IT Industry itself:
  • Software vendors are still requiring users maintain current versions in order to maintain support
  • Hardware vendors are continuing to drop support on their older models at their forecast rates
  • Hardware support for new equipment on legacy OSes, like XP, is evaporating quickly
  • Keeping legacy equipment becomes exponentially more expensive as time progresses due to hardware failures
  • Extra equipment stockpiles are likely exhausted at this point
  • In many organizations, equipment mixes are becoming more "laptop/mobile-rich" due to business requirement shifts
We need to make sure that management understands that on top of the IT Industry-based external change factors, we have other external change factors affecting our environment, like changes in customer requirements, supplier-based changes, governmental rule changes, etc. We also then need to consider the internal factors affecting the environment like business process changes due to reorganizations or staffing changes.
This isn't about fighting for unsustainable IT budgets or generating additional consulting engagements. In economic times such as these, it is easy to simply say that we are "not going to spend money", but that will simply lead to a significant number of "emergency" purchases (failed hardware, unexpected software changes, etc.), lower than expected productivity, and overhead costs being higher than organizations expect; making you less efficient than before.
Now is the time to really sit down with your management and truly understand what factors are important to them. Times like this allow you the freedom to question the "status quo" with relatively little organizational risk. This includes items like:
  • Pruning under-utilized or redundant applications from the environment, likely reducing licensing and support costs.
  • Consolidating vendor contracts to reduce overhead and improve buying power
This is also the time to address operational inefficiencies. Sit down with your end-user communities and really listen to them. Find out the things that are quietly driving your users nuts or causing them to spend more time than is necessary. Take the time and address these items. It is the little things like this that help keep management perceiving IT as a "business advantage" rather than simply a "necessary overhead cost".
The reality is that it has pretty much come down to failing to actively manage change within your environment is actively planning a career change.

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