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10/17/2014
11:20 AM
Grumpy IT Guy
Grumpy IT Guy
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IT Is Slow? Not Our Fault

Everyone's telling IT to hurry up. Bah! Compared to other parts of the organization, IT is greased lightning.

Cubicle Sins: 10 Coworkers Who Drive You Crazy
Cubicle Sins: 10 Coworkers Who Drive You Crazy
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Business unit slowness. Let me count the ways.

Procurement is where dreams go to die. Some of the times "IT is slow," the trail leads back to procurement. Rules, rules, rules. We can buy anything we want as long as it's from one of the big existing players. But in the tech world, new things come from new vendors. New vendors don't like our sign-up process. One quips to me, how about instead of paperwork, we just walk through hot coals? It would be quicker.

[For more on what makes Grumpy IT Guy grumpy, see Grumpy IT Guy: Finance Wars.]

If procurement is where dreams go to die, legal is where dreams go to languish. How many times have we done projects where everything is goes well ... except the contracts.

We send something to legal, and it is so slow getting something back, I imagine the process like this. They get our contracts for approval in our state-of-the-art electronic approvals system. I bet they print it out. Then they write it out longhand, just to really appreciate every ... single ... word. After which they painstakingly translate the changes back into MS Word. Maybe they re-type everything into the approval system.

I don't know. What I do know is that it takes a really long time and five follow-ups before we get something back from legal.

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

Even when we do get something back from legal, it creates unnecessary time-suck drama. Our BigCo legal feels that all liability should be on the other party's side. One vendor recently complained about terms that legal inserted: "If there's some data breach five years from now, we can be named for infinite liability?" They wouldn't sign. More delays while we found a vendor that would. Memo to CEO, never sent: Maybe if we were reasonable in our contract demands, projects wouldn't be quite as slow?

One grumpy IT guy at another company told me they don't cancel projects when vendors don't sign with ridiculous terms and conditions, they just offshore with India, because India doesn't care if they have infinite liability ... because by the time they get sued, they will have gone through three entity changes, good luck with your international lawsuit.

Lines of business are no better. We have a great idea. Our contact in the business unit says great idea. Then it goes up the chain of command. Maybe chain of command is where dreams go to die. OK, maybe not all ideas are big great ideas. But the DELAYS are always big. When the answer is yes, after much delay they come back to IT: Implement IMMEDIATELY!

Think agile IT is great? Think speedy IT is greater? But we are not going to get there until everybody agrees to speed up. More agile business is not just about IT.

If the world wasn't changing, we might continue to view IT purely as a service organization, and ITSM might be the most important focus for IT leaders. But it's not, it isn't, and it won't be -- at least not in its present form. Get the Research: Beyond IT Service Management report today. (Free registration required.)

Grumpy IT Guy avoided historic disasters and clueless people while working his way up the IT ranks, but he retained his keen sense of humor. He now leads an IT organization somewhere in America, as part of the FBI's Grump Protection Program. Need advice? Send questions to ... View Full Bio
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GrumpyITGuy
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GrumpyITGuy,
User Rank: Strategist
10/24/2014 | 4:09:12 PM
Re: Lawyers and procurement
Bill, you are clearly not really a J.D. You are making too much sense.

And you're spilling all the lawyerly secrets. 

Plus, these sound suspiciously like IT experiences:  

... some bean-counter who is high enough up the chain to wreck people's careers and whose understanding of risk begins and ends with the idea that we don't take any ...

... People tend to want whatever they scrawled on a cocktail napkin at the customer lunch back to them by 5:00 with a gold star, an OK stamp, and a memo ... 

maybe you are really an IT guy? It is OK, all is forgiven. Come back to the data center, Bill, come back.

GrumpyITGuy
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GrumpyITGuy,
User Rank: Strategist
10/24/2014 | 4:03:54 PM
Re: Lawyers and procurement
Wait. You mean there are executives who DON'T wield a mega-ego and do napkin deals, think in the short term, and live in the 80s?
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2014 | 7:15:31 PM
costs
For IT to run "faster" that usually means it's going to cost some $$$. CEO's don't always see the ROI on some projects right away and the project stalls.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2014 | 2:35:03 PM
Re: Lawyers and procurement
Technocrati, that's a very old-fashioned view of leadership. If somone is working under an executive who wields a mega-ego and napkin deals, short-term thinking and all the other 1980s-era qualities, the employee surely knows it. That sort of personality perpetuates itself across the enterprise, creating an amalgamation of petty chiefs and fiefdoms. My point: people know when they are working for a crappy CEO and executive team, and have to rationalize it every day they get out of bed. If you don't like it, change jobs.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/21/2014 | 2:08:59 PM
Re: Lawyers and Procurement: A Match Made ....
We heard a lot about this from attendees at our recent IT Leadership Summit at Interop. I don't think IT and legal have ever spoken the same language, but now IT is feeling the delay factor more (are we still waiting for procurement?) when project timelines are weeks or a couple of months instead of a year or more.
zaious
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zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2014 | 12:44:37 AM
Re: Lawyers and procurement
Gone are the days when buying things were less complicated. Now, everywhere people are trying to save money. A good investment IT will pay for itself through better services.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
10/20/2014 | 11:10:42 PM
Re: Lawyers and procurement
bill_esq, can you comment on what Technocrati mentioned about legal teams building in incentives for themselves in deals so that they can pay off their next year's mortgage checks?
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
10/20/2014 | 2:30:38 PM
Re: Lawyers and procurement

@bill_esq      Thank you for being so candid.   I really appreciate it.   It is enlightening to hear how Lawyers are dragged into issues that ultimately have little to do with business - speaking of those CEO's who think the World revolves around them.

The napkin agreement ?    Forgot about those, and the thought that someone brings it to Legal with the explicit instruction to "make it happen" really makes an outside observer worry a great deal.   If people actually knew the abilities of most that "lead" them - I would hope they would start looking for a new job.

The problem is this mentality is everywhere !    So again thank you for your insight it is greatly appreciated.   As a result, I will start to look at some Lawyers a little differently as a result.

 

Note to Self:  We are all just working for the Chief Idiot in the end.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
10/20/2014 | 2:22:06 PM
Re: Lawyers and Procurement: A Match Made ....

"...I'm hearing more complaints about how procurement teams don't understand the nuances of technology, and that understanding tech is not a priority among procurement. "

 

@ChrisMurphy     I would say this is often the case.   It is a systemic issue for IT.   For some reason, some business professor decided that IT fell under traditional day to day expense and function.  So who should oversee it ?  Well at the time the only position was CFO.  No one cared or asked if the CFO should have any knowledge of IT, just give him or her the responsibility because after all IT cannot manage itself.

Then business figured out it does need a head of IT - and the CIO was born.   No one factored in that often those thrust into these positions know little about the "politics of management" and most often CIO's just appear to be doing something when often they are no more than high priced "expense coders" in the end.  

I find it extremely annoying to have to explain purchases which have been research as if I were spending my own money.   I can understand a short meeting to bring them up to speed, but endless meetings to "teach" a paper pusher the intricacies of technology is enough to make me want to look for another profession.

bill_esq
IW Pick
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bill_esq,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2014 | 12:08:19 PM
Lawyers and procurement
I'm one of those dreaded legal guys. Here are some dirty little secrets from our end.  

1.  Every deal has a downside risk, just because s--t happens.  Products get recalled, market conditions change, key people get hit by buses, etc.  

2. People on the front lines need to assure their customers that if s--t happens, the company will take the hit.  Behind them, though, there's usually some bean-counter who is high enough up the chain to wreck people's careers and whose understanding of risk begins and ends with the idea that we don't take any.   

3. Nobody actually wants a lawyer to review a contract.  People tend to want whatever they scrawled on a cocktail napkin at the customer lunch back to them by 5:00 with a gold star, an OK stamp, and a memo addressed to the aforementioned bean-counter promising that the lawyer will take responsibility if anything bad ever happens.       

4.  Principles #1 through #3 apply to both sides of the deal. Not just yours.       

The above isn't by way of complaint, just observation based on many years of experience.  In the immortal words of Don Corleone this is the life we have chosen and you're right that it's not a bad one.   

A good lawyer knows how to write fair contracts that get deals done.  The time suck starts when the bean-counters on both sides (sometimes aided by high-testosterone CEO/COO types who like to play dominance games) want to make the other guy accept deal risks that they wouldn't sign up for themselves. 

Understand what risks your paperwork is asking the other side to sign up for, and if you don't understand anything in the contract - for instance, indemnification clauses are often important but are usually written in really dense legalese - take a few minutes to have your legal dept explain it.   If your contract form isn't something that you as a business person would recommend that your own company sign, recognize that your risk aversion culture is probably getting in your own way.   

      
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