Saturday, August 21, 2010

Business first, IT next

Some time back, I read that a certain restaurant has invested in a PDA wireless ordering system and has yet to see any benefits out of it. In my heart, I felt that the person who authorized the project has totally missed the point.

Before you embark on any project, there should always be a business need that requires it. Using the example above, there should be a project objective that will resolve a problem that the restaurant may be having. For example, wrong orders being taken, ability to inform the customers that a certain item has sold out, etc. The above example may be a classic case of buying the technology and waiting to see what benefits they will reap from it.

It is really no secret that many big IT projects fail. Most of the time, the IT companies get the blame. I however feel that the problems lie in 2 broad areas.

First area is the above example that I have used. Technology does not automatically reap benefits and benefits need not directly translate to monetary terms. How do you measure customer loyalty or returning customers? One should always purchase technology if there is a need for it and it resolves one or more problems that are currently encountered.

The other area is actually trained IT staff to manage the IT needs of a company. Who has heard of cases where the IT department of a company actually know nuts about IT and how to apply it to the business? How about cases where the company is totally reliant on the vendor to provide the solution and blames the vendor if the solution fails even though the company should know their business operations best?

The problem now is that many businesses think that IT is a chore and it doesn't bring benefits to the organization. However, they fail to realize that someone is ensuring that the technology runs seamlessly and smoothly 24 x 7 to support the business. Most IT staff only gets the blame if something goes wrong but never the credit when a certain solution works.

Because of a lack of trained IT staff supporting the business, it is no wonder that IT projects fail. IT projects are not just about project management. IT knowledge and how to apply it to business operations are also important. Only the company staff, not the IT people, will know their business operations best. Without their contribution to the project, IT projects will fail.

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