Let IT Be More
than Firefighters"> Yet not as many people are speaking about how to fight this, to adapt to the market and bring value back to IT that simply cant be sent elsewhere when cost-saving impulses set in. "To blame outsourcing, offshoring and the dot com bust is to miss the point," DeMillo said. "If you know the value chain is changing, and you continue to teach people to do things that are quickly becoming commoditized, you are doing them a disservice. Its better to figure out where the value is being added for employers, and focus on this."When IT stops interacting with the rest of the company, stops exerting influence by no longer offering innovative technology solutions for business problems, it packages itself in an easily shipped box, IT professionals said."Outsourcing is a symptom, not the problem. Outsourcing has become such an important factor because when you turn IT into a commodity, it becomes about where you can get it at the lowest cost. Its what weve done to IT that is the problem, which is taking away its chance to influence business," said Skaistis. Let IT be more than firefighters IT professionals that have worked in the field for a long time often speak about a shift in their work where they have gone from tossing ideas back and forth to make for better technology solutions to fighting fires all day. "Theres less emphasis on creativity, and more on maintenance. Tweak this, work on this In being reactive not proactive, everything is a crisis. Something has to be done right now, putting out fire after fire, going a long way to making IT a less pleasant environment," said Skaistis. Beyond making for a unpleasant work environment for the techies already in-house, this firefighting serves as a warning to potential recruits: you will not like this job. "The best minds are not making it into the field. To some CIOs, it is a concern; to others it is not. Theyre losing out on the bright young people coming into the pipeline because people have an impression that if they work in IT, theyll just be fixing passwords all day," said Skaistis. IT needs to get back to showing people how work can be made better through technology, and how technology can be more effective, IT professionals said. "IT is behind the wall, and business is outside the wall, and trying to exchange ideas across the wall is nearly impossible. Weve stopped asking what computers can do for us," said Skaistis. Better managers get better results Skaistis argues that although establishing guidelines and defining expectations is straight out of Management 101, he has found that many enterprise IT professionals dont know what is expected of them. Often, they only find out after theyve missed a deadline or made a mistake. "People perform best when they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured," Skaistis explains. "Many high performance organizations provide their team members with written expectations and accountabilities. It takes time to write and discuss expectations and accountabilities, but it is time well spent." Academics are wondering if computer science is dead. Click here to read more. Tom Harpointer, CEO of Atlanta-based Web development firm AIS Media, talks about bringing people back to IT by giving them more flexibility and freedom in their work. "People want to work some place they can be creative, have opinions, where they can make their ideas work and where the rules arent so rigid and they wont be nailed to the wail every time there is a mistake. People will perform better if theyre given some flexibility, and the opportunity to make an impact," said Harpointer. An essential part of making people feel better about their work is to give continuous feedback, not just waiting until a scheduled salary or performance review. "You have to make people feel good about what theyre doing. You dont feel good about going to the dark room at the end of the hall, chained to the help desk phone until the time you go home," said Skaistis. "We cant ignore the people issue. We really have to make IT a better place to work." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, analysis and commentary on careers for IT professionals.