It has been a while since I posted from the Armchair but today I was reminded of something so important to IT shops: It's the little things that count. I did a quick job for a company - an out of band job - in that their internal IT was not able to do it - and it took me 23 minutes. 15 minutes of that was trying to figure out what the problem was. Another 5 minutes to generate a wee bit of VBA code to change all control formats in an Excel spreadsheet. And two days of someone's time saved (multiplied by how many spreadsheets, and there were a lot, as they were audit worksheets.)
I felt good about this. This is one of the reasons why I liked being in IT: helping clients, saving time, saving money, and saving frustration. And then the reflection on my past experiences and why I was popular in groups I worked in and why the IT machine disliked me. Productivity solutions are not big projects. They're tiny things. They don't require high priced software or managers. It is the practical execution of LEAN principles. Identify those little, repetitive things that waste time and money and get rid of them.
In three local companies over the last 10 years I saw the "office productivity" groups get disbanded. Each of these groups had "too much work" yet were eliminated anyway. They were very popular in the organization because everyone used PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and even Access and had these tools on their desktops. End users just needed a little bit more out of those applications - slightly beyond the reach of a power user. Personal productivity software is often the right tool for the job. But big IT seems hell bent on killing the spreadsheet, etc. Why? Because its not manageable. Because its not supportable. Says who?
Says the person who measures themselves by projects and project price tags. IT is ultimately a service within a company. Technology enables people to work effectively and efficiently. Isn't it fascinating how IT is trying to reposition itself these days as the agent for business transformation? We can help our internal clients do better by being champions of continuous improvement. Unfortunately many C.I. groups I know are very keen to coach others on how to work better without actually being able to do the work.
Givers Take All from McKinsey is a fascinating article about corporate culture that promotes the belief that workforces that help enable each other are the most productive. For me that is true transformation: break IT silos and help lighten the load.