Stories by Minda Zetlin

IT: Don't let the CEO wonder what you do all day

If there's no catastrophic system failure or major software deployment to work on, CEOs might wonder what IT does all day. Here's how to make sure your contributions aren't undervalued when things go smoothly.

How to prevent IT department overload

Managing the flow of an infinite supply of worthwhile projects through a finite IT operation takes finesse. Here's how to avoid the backlog and the chaos.

Is Your Outsourcer Agile Enough

About four years ago, Medidata Solutions decided to switch from its traditional "waterfall" method of software development to an agile methodology. Medidata provides clinical testing solutions in a software-as-a-service model. "We made the change for all the usual reasons," says Andrew Newbigging, senior vice president of research and development. "We wanted to be more responsive to customer needs." At the same time, Medidata's IT leaders explored the possibility of outsourcing some of the company's software development. Though that might have made sense in the traditional waterfall world, they concluded that it was the wrong way to do agile.

Guide: The new rules for enterprise apps

An insurance company decided to roll out an application for its sales reps. The new app would give them a wider selection of products to offer customers when out in the field. Information on those products was stored in a legacy mainframe system, so the company created a Web interface that let reps query the database to get details on offerings.

Three warning signs of a user-unfriendly app

A user-friendly interface is paramount if you want employees and external users to adopt an enterprise application. But what, precisely, makes an app user-friendly? That's a complicated science, with detailed books and research papers devoted to it. But if your app has any of the following three elements, that's probably not a good sign.

App spotlight: British Airways' iPad app improves customer service

Can deploying a user-friendly enterprise application solve customer service problems? For British Airways, the answer appears to be yes. In August, the airline conducted a pilot test in which about 100 crew members were given iPads loaded with its new Enhanced Service Platform app. After a successful test, the airline is now distributing 2,000 iPads with the app to senior crew members across its route network.

The Leap to Linux: How do you determine your training needs?

Many companies initially installed Linux for noncritical uses, but now the operating system is frequently being used to run core applications. To keep those applications running smoothly, IT managers must provide their staff with the necessary Linux expertise.

When the Plug Gets Pulled

In a previous job at a large refining company, IT director Bob Ghirlanda spent a year putting together a plan to install a computerized maintenance management system. With the system specifications and ROI analysis in place, Ghirlanda went to work implementing the project. Then things started to go wrong.

The web's master builders

Last July, GoTo Auctions was knee-deep in problems. Part of Pasadena, Calif.-based Inc.'s portal site, Raleigh, N.C.-based GoTo Auctions is a "shopbot" for auction sites, allowing users to search hundreds of different auctions for specific items.

Staying On Track

A few years ago, Tony McDonald was Budget Rent A Car Corp.'s director of financial systems and in charge of creating new reporting technology for the Lisle, Ill.-based car rental agency. The project was well under way when the corporate controller who had sponsored it left the department.