Four Feckless, Counterproductive Business Approaches to IT

From lacking a long-term plan to rushing projects, to presuming they know more about technology than they do and assuming IT will fail, business approaches to IT can be faulty.

Its not news that business and IT departments within a company dont always get along. Its rare to find a geek or a suit out there that cant list off one or several examples of their earnest work being thwarted by "those other guys."

Yet, most people will tell you there is more to the picture than incompatibility, some noting problems as simple as a language gap.

"Sure, youre both speaking English, but the same words may mean different things to the IT and business sides of the organizations," said Jeff Bates, founder of and vice president, editorial of OSTG.

Bates gives a recent example of a colleague who was presented with a report that had the words "My Sequel" throughout it.

"Obviously, this report writer had a conversation with someone discussing MySQL and didnt understand it was an abbreviation. But, its indicative of the language barriers that can occur when both sides make assumptions."

Personality differences come into play, too, from differing motivations to disparate needs from their jobs.

"We did a survey of developers about their motivating factors, and the majority of them said that they felt their work was akin to writing a song or telling a story. This plays out in the corporate environment, too. IT will often think its the right thing to do to maximize the functionality of a new tool, when business just wanted a specific solution," said Bates.

Bill Hewitt, former Novell executive recently turned CEO of Kalido, summed up the differing ideal work environments for IT and business folks.

"IT wants to have a centralized role that they can control; business wants to have a decentralized role with complete flexibility," said Hewitt about the culture gap between the teams.

Yet, beyond these leveled playing fields, there are times that even the best, brightest and most well-intentioned business person can approach their IT department the wrong way.

Worse than causing offense or exacerbating animosities, its counterproductive to the shared goals of both teams.

eWEEK spoke to a batch of IT managers, business analysts and others with related expertise about exactly what these things are.

More than a blame game or all too easy finger-pointing, their specific examples of ways business can hinder IT progress lends insight to the age-old conundrum of why so many projects fail.

Next Page: Lacking a long-term plan.