We all have the neighbor, friend, or relative who has their kitchen floor torn up, their bathroom halfway remodeled, and a project car in their yard. I used to wonder why they held onto so many unfinished projects. One thing I noticed is that it never seemed to be about money. It would have taken about $50 in materials to finish tiling the bathroom or $20 to finally paint the kitchen cabinet. So, what was the holdup?
When Infinize started assessing the IT departments in large organizations, we saw a similar pattern. Fail-over firewalls would not be configured. Expensive tape drives or SANs were not rolled out. Even worse, seemingly simple things like password changes, basic maintenance, or simple policies always seemed to be unfinished projects.
As in the case of the house remodeling, it was rarely ever about money. Most of the time the capital expenses had been approved or could easily be approved. The idea of never finishing things seemed to unknowingly permeate the organization and projects rolled through months and even years to be “almost” finished.
The biggest question was “Why?” These unfinished projects were needed and had executive support. The employees were dedicated to the company’s success and resources were available to complete the projects. What was going on? Why were so many important projects not being finished?
How come it was happening in so many organizations – and why wasn’t management able to intervene to direct these unfinished projects to completion?
What was happening was simply the lack of a system. A system painlessly guides you towards your end goals. An easy comparison is the infrastructure that we travel on every day. Via the roads and highways through our country, there are millions of places where one could arrive to. Yet, without proper guidance and rules, users end up lost, redirected, or (frighteningly) in harms’ way. However, with a carefully thought-out, tested, and comprehensive set of users’ rules, signs, and maps easily guide a traveler from where they are to where they want to be.
Our version of that system is creating an independent and thorough strategic IT road-map – assessing risk, urgency, cost, and liability while simultaneously mapping out the details and urgency to serially complete these projects. By clearly identifying these project details, we are then able to partner additional support (much like the flying buttresses that support cathedral ceilings) to ensure that the end goals are achieved. Trusted outside influencers assess roadblocks, reinforce priorities, and help C-levels mobilize resources to see these projects through to completion.
Our system links risk to accountability and creates an environment where people become serial finishers. Otherwise an IT department ends up like the neighbor with the incomplete remodel and junk in the front yard, exposing the organization to such risks like network penetration or data loss. As a CEO, you shouldn’t accept stagnancy in in exchange for progress. By following the right system, you can support and encourage your dreamers while moving on from that half-built engine in the yard.