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12 bad habits that slow IT to a crawl

Bob Lewis | Sept. 11, 2015
Bottlenecks always seem born of the best intentions, but they must be rooted out -- and broken.

Bottleneck No. 6: Suppressing shadow IT

Shadow IT -- business-department-deployed systems -- causes problems. In particular, with shadow IT, islands of automation built on shabby foundations are the rule, not the exception.

But shadow IT unfailingly does what the business needs. And it doesn’t have to wait for the IT governance process to give a green light, so it delivers what the business needs now.

Think of it as a free source of outsourced application teams that have brilliant business analysts but terrible architects.

Shine a light on shadow IT. Give it a bit of support instead of trying to stamp it out. In exchange you’ll multiply your bandwidth, even after counting the effort required to refactor its designs with metaphorical plumbing and wiring that meets IT’s metaphorical building codes.

If you’ve turned IT into Integration Systems you can make the APIs available to the company’s shadow IT teams, too, solving the islands of automation problem at the same time.

Bottleneck No. 7: Insisting on 100 percent solutions

IT’s instinct is to bulletproof everything. But coding for a case that hits the system once every thousand transactions takes as long as coding for a case that occurs hundreds of times a day.

Take a lesson from the ancient days of IT: Program the main cases and kick out the rest as exceptions for manual processing.

Computers are good at main cases. Humans are good at exceptions.

Bottleneck No. 8: Creating data warehouses

Pick one word to describe the typical data warehouse project and it would likely be “behind schedule.”

OK, that’s two words. Sue me. But data warehouses are still chronically late due to the difficulty of designing OLAP data structures optimized to answer questions nobody knows they’re going to want to ask right now.

Enter NoSQL. What makes NoSQL interesting isn’t only its ability to handle large data volumes. Even more valuable is its ability to accept data now and let analysts figure out its organization later, when the time comes to query it.

It’s this “schema on demand” quality that lets Hadoop implement at hyperspeed in comparison.

Bottleneck No. 9: Emphasizing TCO

Do your decision-makers forget that costs generate benefits?

Look, any schmuck can cut costs. The trick is cutting costs without impairing delivery. This is where total cost of ownership (TCO) comes into play, and not in a good way.

TCO doesn’t care about functionality, except to discourage it. After all, the easiest way to cut costs is by providing and supporting stuff that’s less functional and capable. Less use = lower cost.

This is what will inevitably happen with an emphasis on TCO because of one of the inviolable rules of metrics: Anything you don’t measure you don’t get. This includes the value of what IT does.


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