The February issue of Oprah magazine has an article by Dr. Phil called “You Teach People How to Treat You.” I’ve used this saying repeatedly throughout my consulting practice. IT departments frequently get the treatment they deserve.
Here are two example. First, I worked for a company where the entire IT department knew what time the CIO came into work. We knew because we would see a flood of emails from her. Nearly everyone in the company sent her requests and she would prioritize these as the highest tasks to work on (after all, they emailed the CIO). So the entire IT department would work on these requests, regardless of the other projects. Most of these were routine help desk requests about broken keyboards or email issues. I went to her and used one of my favorite project sayings: “When you work off your inbox, you’re working on everyone else’s priorities, not your own.” She argued that IT is a service department and everyone else’s priorities are IT’s priorities. That’s wrong on so many levels but I’ll leave that for another day. The point is that the entire company used the CIO as the IT help desk. And why not? We had trained them to do that – send your problem to the CIO and it will get addressed.
The second example is an insurance company that had a problem finishing projects. The company would not let projects end. The business departments argued that more work was always needed and the project team needed to stay intact to do the extra work. IT hated this as it consumed resources on projects with ever diminishing returns. But IT had no change control process! There was no process to weigh changes against time and resource budgets. IT had trained the business departments to monopolize resources on their own projects for as long as possible.
IT departments train other departments on how they want to be treated. If you have processes, and you follow them, the business departments will follow them too. Especially when they see the increase in productivity that results in efficient processes in project management. More projects done faster with better results can only be consistently achieved with appropriate, proven project management processes.