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Ex-CFO/CIO says finance and IT need each other after all Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 April 2010
Article Index
Ex-CFO/CIO says finance and IT need each other after all
Service and Control
Results and Respect
Tactics and Strategies
Expense and Investment
Quick and Quality
Customization and Standardization
Innovation and Bureaucracy
Good IT Can Be Great IT

(CIOZone) By Lisa Yoon

Don't be misled by the title of Susan Cramm's new book, "8 Things We Hate About IT." In this case, the "We" refers to both business and IT leaders. According to Cramm, both business lines and IT departments "hate" the same things about IT. The two groups may see the problems in different ways, but both are frustrated with the IT system that exists in most organizations. One CIO of a Fortune 200 company even described IT to Cramm as a "sucking vortex."

Cramm, president of executive-coaching and development firm Valuedance, is your friend. A former CFO and CIO, she understands both the business and IT perspectives. In her introduction, she cheerfully informs the reader that the book is "mostly focused on nagging you, the business leader." For leaders experienced in technology management, the book can help them educate their team and improve their relationship with IT. For those inexperienced in managing technology, "8 Things" can serve as a guide to IT fundamentals and provide a foundation for determining their expectations of their teams and of IT.

Finally, she says, the purpose of her book is for you, the IT executive, to share with your colleagues on the business side. If your business counterparts want IT to be better, this is the book that tells them, "Help me help you." Indeed, Cramm is unapologetic about the responsibility of business people to be "IT smart" and cites a recent survey that found only 27 percent of business leaders meet that standard. And it is the "IT-dumb" who have the worst relationships with IT and are dissatisfied with the service they get.

The book's ultimate offering is a new paradigm for the business-IT relationship, which she reaches by addressing the top IT hates. What do we hate? Cramm poses each issue as a pair of complaints, one from the IT perspective and the other from the business side:

  • Service or Control
  • Business: IT is overly bureaucratic and control freakish.
    IT: The business side makes silly, unsound requests without a clue about impact.

  • Results or Respect
  • Business: IT is full of condescending techies who don't listen.
    IT: Business treats IT like untrustworthy hired help (hired help that they may believe to be magicians).

  • Tactics or Strategy
  • Business: IT is reactive, not proactive.
    IT: Business doesn't include IT in planning.

  • Expense or Investment
  • Business: Hates when IT proposes luxury over good-enough.
    IT: Business only cares about costs, not value.

  • Quickness or Quality
  • Business: IT doesn't deliver on time.
    IT: What's "on time"? Business is always changing its mind.

  • Customization or Standardization
  • Business: IT doesn't get what the business really needs.
    IT: Business wants everything -- now -- without much thought to ROI.

  • Innovation or Bureaucracy
  • Business: IT doesn't get behind innovation.
    IT: Business doesn't get IT systems.

  • Greatness or Goodness
  • Business: IT gets in the way of business change.
    IT: It's always something. Business is never happy with IT.

Cramm then takes those "ors" and turns them into "ands," offering a way for the two sides to resolve their differences. For instance, in a rehabilitated business-IT relationship, business leaders get results and IT gets respect.

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