Business chases IT rewards, skips when going gets rocky

Business managers want to control decision-making in IT projects but they are the first to jump ship as soon as problems arise.

IT managers claim executives are keen to captain IT projects in the initial stages claiming full ownership; but, as soon as there are difficulties the project is shafted back to IT which undertakes the clean-up.

Only last week Unisys Australia released research identifying a gap within organisations when it comes to shouldering the risks and accepting the rewards of IT.

The survey of more than 200 IT and non-IT professionals in the financial services sector found "there is some misunderstanding of the roles and responsibilities of all parties".

"IT professionals want business units to take more ownership and accept more responsibility for outcomes, but business managers are reluctant to do so," according to the research.

Meta Group senior program director, John Brand, said IT is shafted with the problems because it has "lower credibility" than business.

"IT actually wants business managers to take control of projects, but they are so busy running the business they have no time to [give to] IT so they just outsource it; it is really up to IT to change the credibility perception by adopting portfolio management processes rather than project-by-project," he said.

"To get out of IT-hell, there has to be a portfolio management approach that is much broader than simply looking at each project; IT is no longer hundreds of people on machines they need to be business specialists with a business perspective."

GWA International IT manager Geoff Dickson said the main responsibility does rest with IT and there are projects where business may lose interest.

"A project may be frozen, but that's typically because business conditions have changed. Responsibility is usually handed to IT because it requires an IT solution, so the heat is on us to address the problem," he said.

Dickson said working with business managers is critical. "If the project doesn't work the whole business is affected."

He said IT project decision-making is a shared responsibility, but business largely sets the ground rules.

Portmans Consolidated IT manager Anne Jones agrees IT is relegated to the "fix-it" role, but all decisions are made jointly between management and IT with a commitment to share outcomes.

But this may change following the acquisition of Portmans by Just Jeans in June, she said, with both IT divisions undergoing a transition period through the merging of operations over the next few months.

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