We are information systems consultants. As part of our typical engagement we work with our clients' internal IT groups. For this reason, our clients' end users consider us to be experts on their organization's IT groups. Recently a depressingly large number of our clients' end users have come to us to ask why their internal IT groups are doing such a bad job. They ask us this question because it is not an easy question to ask of a colleague; it is easier to ask an outsider.
This barrage of questions has forced us to consider this question, although we usually try to stay out of internal IT politics as much as possible.
When we took a step back to consider the different IT groups in different organizations, a pattern began to emerge. We are seeing an alarming number of them in the following situation:
- They are being asked to "do more with less"
- Positions are being filled only after long delays if at all
- Functions are being taken in-house to save money
The second point is a function of the recession as well: there are so many applications for any given job that managers are tempted to wait for the PERFECT candidate. Here is an excellent column from James Surowiecki's reliably interesting and useful column in the New Yorker.
The third point is a function of muddled managing: if you have cut your IT group's budget, and failed to hire new people, then adding work to their plate is very unlikely to produce good results. The most common outcome we see is a decline in service to the users and a decline in morale within the IT group.
So if your formerly-good IT group is in steep decline, you might want to lobby for their budget to be increased or their headcount to go up. But if that is not an option, then perhaps you can temper your irritation at the decline in service with pity for the IT group itself: it can't be any fun to be on an ever-sinking ship.