Driving a spreadsheet doesn't make an ERP expert

Beware of business managers who believe that because they can drive a spreadsheet they are qualified to implement an ERP system, IDC's end user program manager Peter Hind said this week.

The current generation of board executives grew up in the PC revolution, he said, and are not intimidated by IT, but they are ignorant of what's involved in managing an IT department and that it should operate as a business accountable for costs, output and deliverables.

Despite the tough cost management environment in which IT managers are operating, Hind said they are doing a good job.

"I think the challenge in business is an obsessive focus on cost which is to the detriment of forward thinking. In the end, if a business is to grow, you don't cost-cut yourself; you need ideas and thoughts on how the business can go forward," he said.

When it comes to outsourcing, Hind said, companies are becoming more judicious.

"Businesses have woken up to the fact that outsourcing can be more costly, and perhaps even result in a drop in service," he said.

While IT shop 'wins' and how they benefit a company should be promoted, Hind said being transparent and not being noticed can be one of the greatest accolades an IT shop can get because it means it's doing a good job.

Australian Computer Society (ACS) national president, Richard Hogg, said today's IT managers are increasingly aware of the need to adopt best practice in all areas of their department, from budgeting, planning and administration to governance and risk management.

By setting these standards, Hogg said, IT departments can prevent threats like outsourcing where the company is looking at quick savings at the expense of long-term vision.

"IT managers should continue to provide excellence in all areas of IT product and service delivery and seek to demonstrate to senior management the long-term benefits and value of retaining the IT function within the organisation," he said.

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