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Thursday, January 24, 2002


So much for parting thoughts for the day. Sleep isn't coming easily tonight. What does come easily is recounting horror stories. To be honest, exposés and climbing on a soapbox are fun. However, they can be so much fun that they become counter-productive. Today I want to share resources that are about IT failures and how to avoid them. This will provide a balanced view of the problems we have and address the reason for the revolution, which is to cast off the poor practices and turn IT into what it's supposed to be.

Let's start with the basics, which begins with the often cited, but little-read CHAOS Report, which was first published by the Standish Group in 1994. This report has greatly influenced the IT project management community. Since you cannot avoid reading about this report, you should read it, heed it, quote from it often, cite it and wave it around in meetings. You'll become one of the annointed ones and will earn a merit badge towards becoming an alpha geek. More importantly, you'll be armed with knowledge that will make you a better project manager.

Another paper I think should be read before getting too deep into changing IT is The taming of the IT shrew - Delivering benefits from IT. The author of this frank look at IT's shortcomings is Dan Remenyi, who is one of my favorite authors. Remenyi's The Effective Measurement and Management of IT Costs and Benefits is one of the best books on the subject, and I also regard IT Investment: Making a Business Case and Achieving Maximum Value From Information Systems: A Process Approach as essential reading for anyone who takes IT management seriously.

Other articles and resources that will provide ideas and show the way to making IT business-centric include:

I threw these in because they impart valuable lessons about the business value of IT or otherwise fit the theme of this entry: 5 "T"s of database availability. Yes, this probably belongs in an entry in Notes from the Field, but I'm including it here because it fits. IT Baseline Protection - the Basis for IT Security is another link that fits because we tend to forget about security when we plan and execute projects, which leaves holes and vulnerabilities in the tools and services that we provide to the business.

Taking TCO to the Classroom will clarify the concept of total cost of ownership, which is important because we tend to go charging off to purchase or implement systems without a thought about value and benefit. Never lose sight of the fact that one of our mandates is to protect shareholder value, not squander it. A final resource, Starting a Technology Project, is aimed at non-profit organizations. Given the abysmal record of IT in starting technology projects this is a worthwhile read. Actually, IT doesn't have a problem with starting technology projects--it's finishing them that seems to be the challenge.