Back, rod, own, for, made

Rearrange this well known… You know the drill…

[if english is not your first language – we have a phrase ‘To make a rod for your own back’ which means to do something that causes you problems later)

We’ve been discussing the business/IT divide.

I work both sides, which is not dissimilar to everyones hero Clint in ‘A fist full of dollars’.

If I do a job for finance its under the radar, just get on, work out what is needed, and deliver. No overhead, no hassle. Sometimes there is a project manager, but generally they are hands off.

If its for IT or some other shared service centre, then suddenly I have to record my time against a bunch of nonsense headings, I have to report progress against some made up estimate. If a project is estimated at 400 hours and I have spent 200, does that mean I am halfway through? with only 200 hours to delivery? well that depends on the accuracy of the 400 hour estimate that generally I don’t make. As that estimate was used to bring me in in the first place.

All the recording and reporting and justifying takes it toll. Whilst it doens’t take that long to do it does take attention away from the key thing which is delivering systems that add business value.

I remember one place I was in a meeting, there was me, the customer and 4 barely connected managers. a project manager, an IT manger, a compliance manager, I can’t remember the other, beverage manger?? In then end me and the customer cancelled the meetings and I just went and set next to them – progress took off.!

And of course someone has to consolidate the figures for all the projects, report them, someone has to be reported to, etc.

So my question is this:

Does the business force IT departments to quote high cost long time scales for projects because they make them work so hard to justify their existence?

The irony of course is that having made internal IT departments jump through hoops to justify themselves, the business then go externally to cut cost and bureacratic overhead!




(oh and have a good weekend)

(In case you didn’y realise I’m no fan of that silly 90’s fad the internal service department)

4 Responses to “Back, rod, own, for, made”

  1. Bob Phillips Says:

    Absolutely, It is damned if they do, damned if they don’t. IT has not been able to ‘just do it’ for decades, they have had to provide estimates and report against them, spending time explaining when there is any deviation.

    But you have to do these things, you have to have some idea of what it will cost (otherwise you are just like government, £2.5bn for the Olympics, oh now it is £9.5bn, will probably be £12bn in reality). You have to measure your progress to see whether you are on track or not, you have to re-estimate time and cost to complete in case it has been not cost-effective. Of course we have to stop inventing ludicrous layers of administrators managing these processes, but that is people and politics, it doesn’t invalidate the need.

    You don’t really beleive we should all just go with the JFDI approach do you?

  2. Charles Says:

    Its usually a question of scale (and experience).
    If you are working on a project involving 15 programmers/analysts/planners etc then you have to have some coordination and measurement.

    If its just you and the client then of course its a complete waste of time to have progress meetings. You are either working on T&M (you charge what it takes or something less for the sake of client relations) or fixed budget (your day-rate will take the strain).

    And yes I am ignoring scope creep: thats a negotiation problem.

  3. Hazel Edmunds Says:

    And then you have the outsourced internal department! How come? Well, I contracted to deliver x in return for a remuneration of y and then it was I’m paying you for five hours and I want z done in those five hours!
    Can’t win – and I’m gald to have lost it.

  4. Al Gill Says:

    Wow! You have a customer with a beverage manager? Must get me one of those…..;-)

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