Handling IT initiatives at corporate level can be – no doubt – one of the most challenging activities in today business world.
Regardless it is on purpose, or it is due to lack of preparation and competence, it is important to care about these three following possibilities, which happen sometimes all together in the worst cases.
1: Top league IT consultants sell to the CEO
Smart consultants hit the top. They know the pain points and provide the right answers to Chief Information Officers, who engage them. Once in front of CEO, few slides well prepared will easily stimulate imagination and make seem easy the path to destinations, which are – in reality – far, hard and expensive to reach.
The trick is to put the right dots in front of the right persons.
Buzzwords like synergy, efficiency, integration, etc. will trigger the attention and gain the approval. CEO will turn consultant’s words into daylight dreams, as faster as bigger is the size of troubles caused by their insufficient score in own corporate.
Unfortunately, devil hides into details and you do not see them from bird’s eye standpoint.
Corporate IT operations will pay for this short sight but – once activities are in motion – who will have the guts to challenge an initiative approved in the C-room?
2: Budget one, cost ten times
Everybody pays attention to price tag, but who is – in reality – able to measure end-to-end total costs of a global IT initiative across a corporate environment?
Smart consultants know how to turn corporate employees into their own staff. This is a subtle but effective process, made of extensive “review” sessions, in which corporate employees create the actual value, and develop, in place of their ordinary work, the answers to problems, which IT consultants have often no idea how to fix.
After all, each corporate has own business processes, specific and peculiar to own culture and practice, so how it might be that someone from the outer world can know the magic way to make the miracle?
Paradoxically, the net result of this hijacking of resources affects the bottom line of corporate performances, and makes smart consultants look bright and inexpensive.
Here the point is not in this engagement of corporate employees, but in the lack of transparency about this cost, if overlooked in the overall balance, which ultimately determines go/no go for the given corporate IT initiative.
3: Leave Easter eggs behind
After roll out of the new IT platform, smart consultants have not finished. On the contrary, they have just begun, and not just for fixing the minor bugs, which naturally remain after a major IT overhauling.
Any corporate is a living organism in a living environment. What to do to comply with new market regulations, changes in general legislations, organizational developments and new business needs (e.g. new products/services to be launched/supported)?
No problem, just call IT consultants, but not just any…
All at once, this corporate will discover that new requirements were not foreseen in outstanding maintenance agreement with original smart consultant.
Then nobody will be surprised that changes are complicated, take time and are very expensive (but after all much less expensive than hiring a new IT consultant and starting the circus once again from green field).
The world works, and this means that top professionals deliver right solutions to their customers, of any size, in this very moment.
On the other hand, nobody likes to work with complex applications, which operate without the “natural” logic and timing of the process, which these are supposed to facilitate and support.
Then, how to protect your corporate and your employees?
The answer is not simple, but common sense may apply.
Corporate should establish proper project management with right people assigned to support – on temporary basis (the duration of the project) – the deployment of such initiatives.
For instance, how can you help your sales force if you never have seen how they really work or what the customers really need?
And who knows deeper than your own best people what might be good or bad to implement or just leave as it is?
My advice, before starting major IT initiatives, is to think about it twice, to weight carefully risks, costs and benefits and, most important, have always a Plan B for your Plan B.