How many times have you tried to get your IT department to (A) answer a question, (B) respond to an RFP process review, (C) develop an application, or (D) just not get in the way? Now, I know that I just ticked off a bunch of bit-heads, but these characteristics do not apply to all IT departments. In fact, many IT personnel are very responsive, helpful, and willing to work with most folks. However, it can be very difficult to work with IT personnel who are not so responsive. For those who cannot get the IT department to fog a mirror, read on for tips on how to use an outside consultant to solve this problem!
Before I proceed, I would like you to know that I was – and to an extent, still am – a bit-head. So, I speak from experience. I was an IT Director who had come up through the ranks, starting as a lowly programmer, then becoming a Systems Analyst (notice that your title gets capitalized as you progress), and then a Business Systems Analyst (Three Capital Letters!!!). Needless to say, I know what goes on in IT departments from experience.
I have worked with and met the most helpful IT personnel you could imagine, and I have also run up against roadblocks more imposing than the Rock of Gibralter. These speed bumps in solving IT problems take on various forms and may have underlying motives ranging from well-intentioned to outright stubbornness, selfishness, or frequently, self-preservation.
For example, sometimes what slows down progress is working with, or around, the protector of all that is good and true in the world: the Network Admin who does not allow any new software or protocols on “his” system. Other times, it is the main application development team that has a tendency to hinder progress.
IT folks sometimes feel like the ignored step-child of the company, and they long for well-deserved attention. When an opportunity comes up to create new and improved processes or applications, IT usually wants to take a crack at it. A consultant working with end users who have a particular problem needs to work with the IT staff to get the information for a successful solution. Sometimes during this process, things are going well when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the project stalls. What is going on?
The consultant calls the customer, who was told that “IT can do that.” The consultant then asks the customer “Okay, but when?” The customer replies, “Well, the IT department has a bunch of other projects with higher priority. The department figures that they can start talking to us…” Then the consultant interrupts to ask, “Didn’t you need this in 8 weeks? And now your IT staff is saying that they can’t even get to it for 2 months.” “Yes, we needed to get the audit and control application in place within 8 weeks. They said that they can do the application, and it would only take a couple of weeks to develop the software.”
On and on it goes. As a consultant, your job gets more difficult as you are caught between a rock (of Gibraltar) and a hard place. You have to make it clear that IT is still loved, under-appreciated, and over-worked. You are trying to lighten the workload of IT, not supplant IT. This project needs to get done ASAP as you are bleeding money and opportunities. You must show the return on investment for this project, the costs for the consultants, and the timelines. If you can show that the bleeding will stop sooner than later, it is money in the bank for your company and the company will choose to use your services. However, if you cannot show that an outside consultant is the more timely and cost-effective alternative to the company’s own IT department, then leave it to IT, and let them prove their mettle. They live for that! Good luck. To find out more about how L-Tron Corporation can help, call us at (800) 830-9523.