Stop Setting IT Up to Fail I: Article Series by Jon Ladle

Stop Setting IT Up to Fail I:  The Nature of Large Companies and Distributors runs counter to innovation and game changing technology.

Most IT departments, especially those in large corporations or distribution companies, are set up to fail in delivering innovative or value creating technological solutions for the business. The #1 measurement of a large, corporate IT department’s success revolves around minimizing operational risk, and developing scalable and repeatable processes. This is how companies that are large build success – they optimize, repeat and continue to grow around their core competencies.

Think about it, IT has as a primary responsibility to ensure that the company’s core operating systems are up and running efficiently ALL the time (typically this means 99.999% of the time). Employees must be able to accept and process orders, manage product and customer records, update inventory, or review the company’s financials at any point in time. Is it any wonder then that IT implements numerous controls, procedures, internal reviews, lengthy QA cycles, etc. to ensure that a change to any system, big or small, does not negatively affect the system itself?

IT rarely receives high-fives for keeping the business running efficiently each and every day (meeting their quota). Even rarer are the congratulatory thanks or words of appreciation for successfully implementing enhancements or upgrades to core operational systems (exceeding their quota). What we hear most often are words such as “Isn’t that IT’s job?” or “It’s hard to not get it right when you have months and years to figure it out”. On the flip side, there is plenty to blame when systems go down, run poorly, or data is lost or corrupted. Against this backdrop, we can clearly see that IT is therefore heavily incented NOT to push the envelope when it comes to delivering game changing solutions.

As well, the very nature of innovation in technology is a willingness to accept failure and try new things, the outcome of which can’t always be anticipated. Why would a large IT organization, focused on spend management and system up time deliberately take unneeded risks, even to drive the company forward in creative ways? They wouldn’t.

About Jon: Our COO, Jon is a seasoned IT professional, innovator and process master.