Why There's No Such Thing As an Information Management (IT) Project

View from above of a shared workspace with technology including laptops and mobile phones.

Let me say this: there’s no such thing as an IT project! Whilst business change projects should make use of the enabling power of Information Technology (IT) they should not be led by technology.

Few, if any, Information Technology (IT) projects are entirely about technology. Yet, all too often, the IT department leads projects involving technology.

Some would argue otherwise…

I get your point, but a Unix OS upgrade or an Oracle upgrade are still IT projects. Whether the business can realize advantage from any enhancements in the new version remains to be analyzed. Certainly the upgrade would be a predecessor for any potential use of the new features, but the upgrade itself is an IT project. – John Wherman

Let’s see if they’re correct…

A project implements the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server. Is it an IT project? If it’s about introducing new productivity tools to the business, it’s not. It is about business change.

Or a project acquires a new software package for managing insurance claims. Is it an IT project? If it’s about changing business practice, it’s not. It is about business change.

Two organizations decide to share their IT infrastructures. Is it an IT project? If it’s about transforming the business, it’s not. It is about business change.

Projects Are About Business Change

Much business change makes use of the enabling power of information technology. However, few change projects are solely about IT.

If we are to bridge the business-IT gap, IT must be seen as an enabler, not instigator of change. Such projects should be business-led.

The IT organization must be committed to business objectives and work to close the culture gap between business and IT.

…the “business” should have a stronger sense of ownership of the systems they use. Like Finance, HR, Marketing and Legal, IT is a “staff” function, as opposed to a “line” function, and therefore should provide the support and infrastructure that the “business” needs to do its job.

Interestingly, the issue of business ownership is as relevant to other staff functions as it is to IT. Finance, for example, seek to get the business to own their “numbers” and struggle with the same issues that IT struggle with as far as whose “numbers” they are and the level of comprehension that business owners have over the “numbers”.

…as a consequence, we struggle endlessly, trying to get them to understand the work we do for them and getting them to take ownership of their “systems”, “numbers” etc. – Peter Kearney

Do you let IT get on with it or see IT as a strategic partner? Should all IT projects be business-led?

What does your Chief Information Officer do to gain credibility? You are welcome to share your opinion, viewpoint, and experiences in the comments.

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