Monday, June 18, 2007

2 steps forward, 1 back or 1 steps forward, 2 back?

In order to make real progress with the use of technology it often seems you have to take some backward steps before moving forward. But when we take those backward steps, do we ever really recover?

Here is an example, an org is about 4 years old, they come up with a great idea to revamp their website and include an awesome platform that transforms their audience into a worldwide collaboration and opens new doors. But in the 2 years it took for all parts to complete the site:
  • their infrastructure and desktops which were donated equipment to begin with, are now 8 years old and are barely operating
  • fiscal management software and data is non-existent
  • operating system on the server hosting the site hasnt been patched
  • credit card #s of donors are not secured
So now this org, with a trail blazing site, is faced with taking large steps backward. But with no funds, expertise or maybe even awareness at what danger they have exposed themselves, all their donors and others to. All this work could go up in a second when the server crashes with no tested backup to restore from or an unnoticed embezzlement.

Or a larger org that decides to move to a new software to meet changing business needs only to find out staff have no computer skills, infrastructure wont support it, desktops cant handle it, etc. So they go ahead with it anyway and begin to fix all the areas they neglected for years, because they just didnt think it was important enough. So the software quickly gets the blame for all the bad things that begin happening like staff quiting, computers crashing, poor IT support, network outages, etc. But in all reality, it was just poor management and funding of the core technology. For the next unforeseeable future though IT has a black eye or two.

Does IT ever really recover from these situations? How do we have direct conversations with the leadership to impress upon them that we have to go back and fix the basics before taking the continual steps forward. Or do we just like taking one step forward and then two back?

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