Don’t deal with problems one at a time. IS has to be a valuable partner in advancing the business plan

In some organizations, the delivery of information services (IS) is best described as a giant, never-ending version of the Whac-a-Mole arcade game. If this situation describes your organization, please take action.

As a technology problem pops up, just like the mole in the game, someone in the IS group is dispatched to whack it down. It doesn’t matter if the problem is related to desktop, servers, network, security or applications. The assigned person does their best to solve the problem and then closes the problem ticket. This process repeats itself, dozens or perhaps hundreds of times, each business day.

Need more space? Please wait an hour or so while we whack in some more drives.
Applications crashing? Please wait until tomorrow while we upgrade to the new version that we’ve had for months but never found the time to whack in.
Response time poor? Please wait a day or two while we scramble to whack in another server.
Need another workstation? Please wait a week or so while we FedEx a workstation to whack into your cubicle.
Network congested? Please wait a month or so while we string some cable and whack in another switch.

There’s never any time to plan for growth and expansion. There’s never any time to create a standard workstation image or architect a reasonable network topology. There’s never any time to integrate applications or to eliminate redundant applications from the environment.

This horrible situation for end-users and terrible work environment for IS professionals exists most frequently in organizations where IS is viewed a hugely expensive cost center. Management is focused entirely on initiatives to whack down this bulging cost. No thought is given to the idea that IS expenditures might actually contribute value to advancing the business plan. No one in the IS organization has the capability or credibility with management to point out how dysfunctional the Whac a Mole situation is.

Most often this situation changes after management fires, or rather whacks, the IT manager for alleged lapses in performance and none of the candidates, identified by a headhunter, are willing to accept the Whac a Mole leader position.

At this point, management comes to the jarring realization that IS will cost more in the future than it has in the past. Concurrently, one of the candidates to replace the IT manager articulates at least a partial vision of how IS can become a valuable partner in advancing the business plan.

At last, the stage is set to quit whacking in quick tactical solutions to every identified problem. Now the Whac a Mole game is only played by the IS staff at the local arcade. Finally, IS begins to deliver value and everyone rides happily into the sunset.

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