Yogi SchulzIn too many organizations, the delivery of information services (IS) is best described as a giant, never-ending version of the Whac-a-Mole arcade game. If this situation describes your organization, it is time to take action.

As a technology problem pops up, just like the mole in the game, someone in the IS group whacks it down. It doesn’t matter if the problem is related to desktops, servers, network, security or applications. The assigned person does their best to solve the problem and closes the work ticket.

This Whac-a-Mole process repeats itself dozens or perhaps hundreds of times every business day.

Here are some common examples you may have experienced:

  • Do you need more space? Please wait an hour or two while we whack in some more disk drives.
  • Is an application crashing? Please wait until tomorrow while we upgrade to the new version we’ve had for months but have never found the time to whack in.
  • Is response time poor? Please wait a day or two while we scramble to whack in another server.
  • Do you need a more powerful workstation? Please wait a week or more while we ship a new workstation to whack into your cubicle.
  • Is the network congested? Please wait a month or more while we string some cable and whack in another network switch.

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More advice for your business community

In this environment, there’s never any time to:

  • support the employees working from home;
  • integrate applications;
  • eliminate redundant applications from the environment;
  • improve data quality;
  • plan for growth and expansion;
  • architect a sensible network topology;
  • create a standard workstation image.

This situation creates a terrible work environment for everyone. It often exists in organizations where IS is viewed as a hugely expensive cost centre. No one in management considers that IS expenditures might actually contribute value to advancing the business plan. No one in the IS organization has the capability or credibility with management to point out how dysfunctional the Whac-a-Mole situation is.

Here’s an approach for improving the computing environment and increasing the value achieved from the IS expenditures:

  • Scan the web for insights into technology developments relevant to your industry.
  • Glean insights from what your competitors are bragging about.
  • Identify the applications needed to advance your business plan.
  • Select and implement software packages or software as a service (SaaS) from vendors that deliver the required application functionality.
  • Avoid custom software development. If you’re not sure you agree with this point, please read You’re crazy to build software.
  • Determine the role of cloud service providers (CSP) as an alternative to on-premise computing for your organization.
  • Strengthen your cyber security defences.
  • Improve your data management practices to enhance data quality.
  • Improve the integration among the applications you operate.
  • Identify opportunities to replace manual business processes and Excel workbooks with more formal automated applications. To learn more about this idea, please watch: Demystifying Digital Transformation.
  • Create a business continuity/recovery plan.

Using this approach to improving information services sets the stage to quit whacking in Band-Aid solutions to every identified problem. Finally, IS delivers business value, and everyone is happier and calmer. The IS staff plays the Whac-a-Mole game only at the local arcade.

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

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