User demands turn up the heat on IT

IT departments are under the gun more than ever before as the increased demands of senior management and end users take their toll, a Computerworld spot survey has found.

Of the IT professionals who spoke to Computerworld 77 per cent feel under more pressure now than in the past, with 94 per cent saying end users now have increased expectations about the performance of IT infrastructures.

Richard Hinsley, group IT manager at Warman International, said: "There are growing expectations in companies [because] the IT industry sells so many promises."

An IT manager from a national agricultural company added: "End users are naive, expecting things to happen like magic.

"We had one guy who expected software to be remotely loaded within the hour and he's eight hours away!

"There are also those users who put non-authorised software on their desktops then [blame us] when their systems fall over.

"The expectations of [users on] IT departments are enormous," he said. An information systems manager at a leading manufacturer also told Computerworld: "There is an increase in the number of projects IT is being asked to perform but we receive less resources, causing a bottleneck that creates stress."

Meanwhile, according to Sean Cooray, LAN support specialist at Daimaru: "Changing technology means that we have to be up to date much faster.

"We always have to be on the ball."

But while Bruce Nicholas, IT manager for Network Ten, acknowledged that end users expect infrastructure performance to continue to improve, he said the onus was on IT departments to make end users aware of technology limitations and of demands on IT staffs' time.

"Demand for IT services is growing so we have to negotiate realistic timeframes," he said.

"We've got a loosely formed steering committee that increases awareness and appreciation [of what we do] and has the ability to add value."

Network Ten's approach is not unique, according to the Computerworld poll.

It found that in 65 per cent of companies, senior management in other business units are increasing their involvement in the development of IT initiatives.

But John Cheeseman, manager of information communications systems at insurer TGIO, said part of the added pressure he is experiencing stems from that increased involvement.

"Management is taking an increased interest rather than letting the IT department dictate the technology agenda.

"This is more stressful as the more they become educated, the more they want for their dollar."

But one IT manager, working for a major utilities organisation, said he has always felt pressure in his role.

"The technology changes, but the issues remain the same; there are still the same pressures to deliver more services with less resources -- yesterday.

"It's always been part of our responsibilities to accommodate emerging technologies."

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