Chapter 1. The IT Dilemma

 

Dilemma: A situation that requires a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive.

 
 --American Heritage Dictionary[1]
 

You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

 
 --Eleanor Roosevelt[2]

Several years ago, we were taking a brief vacation with our families. Like any good technology consultants, we were never far from our mobile phones. The call came from an acquaintance, the chief operating officer of a mid-size company based in the Southeast. He knew we were on vacation, but he really wanted to talk ... now. His story came out in a rush:

I tell you, I’ve completely had it with my IT department. We have a tremendous number of business initiatives that rely on technology projects in the IT department. Not only have we lost the chance to get ahead of the competition, but we are falling behind because the IT department can’t seem to finish anything. We have a list of over 150 projects and no one seems to know what the status is or who is in charge. I can’t remember the last time one was completed. The entire executive team has lost confidence in IT.

Every time I ask how I can help the IT department, they come back with additional headcount or capital expenditure requests. Now the IT budget is twice what it was two years ago, and the headcount has doubled, too. I think our costs are way out of line. I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I don’t know enough about technology to understand the issues and get out ...

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