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Vexing Technology Management: Not Working Together

Technology management is not getting any easier, despite technology’s ubiquity, the ease with which we integrate it with our daily lives and cloud-based services, which should simplify nearly everything if you believe the press.

The primary reason why there’s a disconnect — a lack of meshing — between users who believe technology should be straightforward and the reality for corporate technology providers is that corporate technology is customized and that requires users and developers to really understand each other.  In fact, I would argue that technology is becoming more difficult to implement successfully.

I continue to see a true lack of communication between the business and technology organizations and implementation failures resulting from lack of understanding rather than anything technical.  In fact, which I’ve mentioned before, a recent McKinsey survey found a low score of 26% for technology leaders proactively engaging with business leaders on new ideas or system enhancements.  This has been a problem for as long as I recall.  I know the 26% figure can be raised.

Trouble is, the business people see the problem but don’t know what to do, while the technologists are so focused on coding and infrastructure and having a project number, they don’t realize the problem’s root cause.   Neither side wants to step into the shoes of the other.

Many ‘blocks’ exist to fixing this problem.  The ‘blocks’ I would concentrate on to solve the problem are:

  • Specifically focusing CIO/CEO discussions on the conversations that should be held between business managers for whom the technology is being developed and the technologists.
  • Understanding the daily relationship between the business managers and technologists.  Normally this is highly discontinuous – which leads to disappointment during user acceptance testing and implementation of the final release.
  • Addressing the unknown effect of outsourcing development, which further distances the business from his/her technology provider.  I think this leads to more ‘throwing it over the fence’ by the business, upsetting the technologists who see themselves more than ever as order takers.  Further, outsourcing highlights communication problems due to cultural, distance and language differences.  And it adds another opportunity for management miscommunication.
  • The dilemma of a CIO who gets kudos for executing ‘overhead’ and believes that is sufficient for creating a strong line of communication and openness with the business organization.   With all the articles and analyses on the importance and role of technology enabling strategy, it’s a shame that the relationship to create a working union still has so far to go.

The ‘blocks’ can be addressed through improved governance, enhanced communication, more mutual planning, and having all parties participate equally.  The gears of both parties need to engage and remain meshed.