Leadership

Hey IT: CFOs don't seem to like you very much

A recent Gartner-sponsored survey indicates that most CFOs are not happy with the IT departments in their company.

I feel like I'm going to tip off a bunch of workplace brawls between IT pros and the CFOs of their companies, but here goes. A recent survey (sponsored by Gartner in conjunction with Financial Executives International) of survey of 344 CFOs at North American companies involved in manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, energy, transportation and other fields seems to indicate that CFOs don't think much of the information technology in their companies and the people who provide it. Here are some of the key findings by the survey:

  • Only 25% see the CIO as a key player in determining the business strategy.
  • Less than a quarter of the CFOs felt the IT department delivers the technology innovation needed by the business.
  • Only 18% of the CFOs said they thought "our IT service levels meet or exceed business expectations."

This attitude could be a little scary considering that more and more IT departments are reporting to the CFO. I'm not sure why. Tech is a high expenditure for a company but so is HR, and you don't see many HR departments reporting up through Finance. In the low-budget film that runs only in my head, I see the CEO, whose eyes glaze over when he's talking to the CIO, deciding it's a good idea that the CIO report to the CFO (who also makes his eyes glaze over in conversation).

The problem is CFOs are focused on the bottom line and may not see the benefit of a technology whose benefit won't be realized past the current fiscal year. What's it like at your company?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

127 comments
premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

1) Management is incompetent; 2) Management is crazy; 3) Management lies.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Have you guys never read the study from the University of Toronto? If you did, we probably would not be having this discussion. The truth is that Executive Ability is developed by the age of 5. If you haven't learned to lie successfully, charismatically and convincingly by that age, you are doomed because you will never have Executive Ability. The people in charge (ie, CEOs, CIOS, CFOs, VPs and sometimes directors) have Executive Ability. The downside of this is that they do not have a firm grasp on reality because studies also show that deliberate lying destroy significant numbers of brain cells. Therefore, if you tell them the truth, they will not recognize it because they don't have a mechanism to do so. If you lie to them, you will be unsuccessful because you don't have Executive Ability and the one thing they can spot is the not very good liars. So they lie. They have Executive Ability. You don't (assuming you are a competent technologist) and you don't. So you are so screwed. Unless... unless... You learn Assertive Incompetence (from my book on the subject -- no longer published). You simply spin them a glorious vision of what they want to hear with some date pushed into what seems the far flung future. Get them to believe in it. They will give you the money and you can build an empire. It's all a lie of course, and you would be caught, except... except... As you get close to the due date (but not too close) and your project is still vaporware while your techs are having glorious play time, you propose an even more glorious future with newer shinier stuff the execs want, making forget about all that old stuff they haven't even gotten yet. You do this over and over, through administration after administration. You will have what you want and so much more. Of course, so many brain cells will die, but does it really matter?

Khephra
Khephra

I'm honestly tired of read these types of posts. It generally accepted that IT doesn't have as sound a relationship with the company players as it should. We need to accept, in some was,we are to blame. We don't play "the game". And that fine if you want to just trudge along. What i want to know, as a young IT manager myself, is how do we fix/build IT's reputation. I want to see success stories of IT making a difference, not with technology, but with the attitude and behaviour of IT towards business. We here all know what IT CAN do, I want to see how others have mad it happen when faced with business challenges like the one mentioned in this article.

Ternarybit
Ternarybit

CFO = bookkeeper with executive title

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

All of them in management and positions of power. Better yet, they don't listen. That works out though, because the system has a LOT of slop in it: If it didn't, a whole lot more failure would be around us. But if we wait awhile as things seriously degrade because of outright incompetence and lust (which is sort of the same thing), don't you think that things could get so much worse? The solution: Facts, knowledge, understanding, wisdom and a whole lot of discipline without panic.

pschulz
pschulz

There are not that many companies which even have a CFO. Your articles are mostly anti-management. Why don't you publish an article like 10 Things Your Manager Won't Like About You and list some stupid things the "IT worker" is doing. This could actually help us more than hi-hi-hi articles about our boss.

randallizm
randallizm

The CFO that does not see the benefits of the IT department , and nurture it's growth in the company will often times look around and see IT pros sitting, they don't like it because they see all of the staff as workers, grunting out what they should be grunting, like factory workers. or worse, they see them as a money drain. However what they never realize is that IT gives them the very systems that run the companies information flow, if it stops, they see large figures flying out the window. they have to have someone to blaim. My last large company killed IT in an attempt to stave off the declining margine in the company, however IT was the only department that came in under budget and ran very smoothly, due to the fact that IT had it's act together. Only after alienating IT and ousting half the department did they realize that they had made a very big mistake, and lose a ton of money they did! They tried to mask the situation and find the "Real" cause for the loss in revenue that lead to the end of the company, however the outsourced IT that never came in under the old budget never occurred to them. What can you guess was the result? You guessed right if you said they do not exist any longer, falling into a 90 Million dollar loss in just 1 year. I will say this, because I know they are reading about themselves if they are reading this. You were warned! you didn't listen and now you are not here anymore to be so supirior, however all of the IT staff remember and hold you high on our list of tragic and pathetic stories. We start our good old days stories with "remember that company that...." laugh, and toast another session of "if they would have only listened......" and "too bad they were so full of their own superiority......" we hear them blambing all kinds of things for the company going under, but the numbers are still the same, IT gone/trimmed=1 company fails=2, Technology growth is essential to success=3..............etc. Keep talking about the worthless IT department. I will be there to buy some of the equipment when your company fails, it is so much cheaper when it comes at auction. Cheers!

raymond.pearce.
raymond.pearce.

There's a cycle thats going on in some companies where business units insist on running IT projects themselves. So they provide untrained stream leads and can't work out why their projects are not successful. (And if they do deliver something it's often a portfolio exception). Because they are "IT" projects, they associate project failure with IT and are then even more reluctant to trust IT to run a project for/with them. This is a significant driver for many outsource strategies i.e. we would prefer to pay more for an outsourced solution because we do not have the skills to govern our own IT projects. Passing IT to the CFO becomes, to some extent, a procurement and asset management responsibility. What needs to happen is for IT to restore a level of trust by begging for a project to run itself and then doing it well.

AdamF75
AdamF75

Maybe the issue is that the CIO is not a strong enough person to defend their department? 25% of CFOs think their CIO is important part of decision making. Maybe the fault is with the other CIOs who are not cut out for the role they are in?

BradBuxton
BradBuxton

Unenlightened IT departments seem to be much more concerned with maintaining a cozy relationship with their vendors and keeping their annual golf invitations secure than assuring lowest cost/highest financial performance for their CFO bosses. Consequently, company fiduciaries will always be staring at the IT department to try to figure out how to cut costs without IT department cooperation (since they often can't get it.) If you are in IT and you want to demonstrate performance in terms that your financially savvy executive can appreciate, then continuously and rigorously compete the business and take costs out while improving performance. If you cut costs paid to vendors, then management will be less likely to look at salaries and personnel. If you can get that right, your career will soar, because you will make it possible to measure your contribution on a P&L while protecting your team.

aepirson
aepirson

I have seen both side of it. I have been a CIO for many years, and have a masters degree in finance. I can tell you on thing for sure. The CFO is not as condescending when s/he knows you master his/her domain as well. It is indeed my opinion that many executives, including the CEO often do not see the bottom line and strateigc advatage of IT. Their ususal answer is: more money? On the other hand I have to agree that IT poeple often are in it for the new and exciting part of new technology, but too often on the "bleeding edge of technology". Even as CIO I was never in favor of the first releases of anything. Uptime ( SW and HW) is very important in my opinion, but then I came out of teh financial services industry (mostly).

bob
bob

Back in the day, Operational talent ran companies. In other words, if you could get a company to produce output efficiently and for a long time, you were the boss. These days, Financial people run the companies. They're good at creative accounting and extracting the dollars *right now*. Of all magazines, Forbes had an article on this phenomenon, and suggested companies should go back to operational types as CEOs.

rengek
rengek

I generally find that many senior management type have this sentiment and at the same time I find they are very much clueless to how technology really works in detail. They have sort of a big picture which makes things worse because now they believe they understand it all. They figure they can do XYZ at home so why can't they do that at work. What is really shocking is that they are upper management and are suppose to be paid the big bucks for understanding the big picture. But yet when it comes to technology they fail to do so over and over again. These kinds of people remind me of My father's real estate clients. They have these notions what the houses that they deserve and what their paltry budget can get them. They want the most modern house with everything renovated, more bedrooms than enough for the royal family, perfect views and they demand the seller sell it to them at half the price that was originally paid for. Its completely unrealistic and out of touch with reality. These CFOs behave like politicians. They at some point in time lost touch with the real folks who does all the work.

jamie
jamie

Oh let's see....I want more, I want to pay less, and you propellerheads better make it happen. Salesman & Glorified Bean Counters. Go ahead an call Menlo Park or Redmond and berate them for awhile and see where that gets you. That's okay, I think you're a jerk as well.

wsargent
wsargent

That goes for CFOs and CIOs. I suspect CFOs need to take some responsibility for distinguishing IT costs from investments, core business IT assets from overhead. It's complicated. I imagine most of these "CFOs who are unhappy with IT" are not in the IT industry. They may correctly see IT as overhead, but they may also unrealistically believe that the industry should have commoditized all of their services by now. On the other hand, I suspect CIOs need to acknowledge the extent to which the IT industry has found various ways to attach their costs to other businesses without necessarily delivering benefits. I think it would be really productive to have the two officers in agreement about what the core business strategy is, what are IT assets (if any) versus costs, and where company wants to innovate (if anywhere).

waltz
waltz

IT is just like air, no one seems to care about it until they don't have any.

Professor8
Professor8

"For example, it's easy for them to justify paying the commissions and bonuses for the sales team but their brains start smoking when it comes to justify IT expendidures." Right. They have no capacity for abstraction, no way to visualize connections that aren't overt, rubbed in their faces. If two things aren't visible at the same time, they don't realize the connections between them. It doesn't generate the same (Skinnerian? Pavlovian?) knee-jerk association. They can't see that the sales are up because the pre-sales support engineers spent an extra 30 hours last month generating better bid packages for the clueless sales-clones; they just see the sales-clone and the amounts of the sales, so they reward the sales-clones. They don't see that the multi-million dollar sale depended on that $400K (and hundreds of hours, including many hours for which they will never be paid) invested by the computer wranglers in preparing the nuts and bolts of the functional and performance demonstrations. No B-school bozo likes to allow those "nerds" to be visible to existing or potential customers. (Their noses run, or they don't have a dozen $1K suits they wear at the office, keep odd children's toys and movie posters around their offices/cubicles/bull-pens, have strange speaking voices, use strange words the B-school bozos don't understand, don't have perfect teeth or, gasp, breath, don't belong to the right fratsorities and clubs.) And then, because they're not present when the deal is closed, their role is either not recognized at all, or is erroneously (or fraudulently) dismissed as of little value.

Englebert
Englebert

They are not meant to see eye-to-eye, to be compatible, to possess similar thinking. This is normal. If perchance CFO's and CIO's (IT) do have the same viewpoint, something's not right.

Professor8
Professor8

(*^&*^% B-school bozos! I've been occasionally diverted into "IT" from real jobs developing software products. B-school bozos are just insufferable and clueless, much more interested in appearances than substance. "IT" people are also different from the main-stream science and engineering, and even nuts and bolts econometrics software developers. They are totally different cultures. The "IT" people are much more likely to be 8 to 5, 5 day a week clock-watchers and -punchers, are far more likely to smoke, wouldn't recognize a super-computer, are deeply into office politics, are less likely to read anything (let alone SF) and less likely to remember anything of substance when they do, and less likely to flock to SF movies. (Well, OK, a few work other shifts, but they're still 8 hour a day clock-punchers.) A few are early adopters of new tech toys, but they're "users", not creators. I've had relatives in those other niches and it was difficult to "talk shop" at family gatherings because our vocabularies, approaches to the work, customary tools of the trade, etc., are so different.

d3d4E4
d3d4E4

IT is just a bunch of lazy bums impeding any progress. They got stuck at the technology level where it was when they left school

slylabs13
slylabs13

Most people do not think the IT department is doing a good enough job. The only way these statistics have any relevance is in the context of how they stack up to everyone else's opinions of the IT department. Also it's pretty easy for people to blame the IT guy for why they cannot get a new Macbook Pro with maxed out memory and the biggest hard drive they can get. I have a reputation for keeping people from getting what they want, but no one ever considers the very salient and indisputable fact, that I do not have the authority either to approve or disapprove ANY IT purchase, even when I am constantly making that fact known to all. IT people are the perfect Straw Men. That is why few are satisfied with us.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Its fun to have that sort of power

TGGIII
TGGIII

Your post is a condemnation of inefficient practices, not IT. I agree that most shops should be moving toward simplicity and integration vs. build. Each of the companies you mentioned requires an IT solution, the question is how to implement it.

TGGIII
TGGIII

Great Post ??? Thank you I came into IT from the business side. I helped write a strategic plan for IT once that had the following assertion: No business chooses to fund 100% of its IT wants; therefore, all businesses must have an effective means of determining the value and priority of it work. In order to determine the value and priority, the business must understand the dependencies, constraints, and drivers in their core processes. In a complex system, there are relatively few knobs to turn to control the entire system. We want to server well but if IT is in chaos, it is because the business does not understand the true value (Benefit) of what it wants to do and pushes the thousand good ideas instead of the ten good projects.. I observe this issue of local optimization vs. engineered processes and planned development to be an issue in many industries and it is the primary ammunition for the IT vs. business struggle.

Mikki40
Mikki40

I have the opposite in my company. My CFO knows how difficult it is and supports IT but the Executive Director eyes will glaze over when proposing upgrades or patches which need to be applied. I don't get why IT has such a bad reputation. However, when something goes off-line or a piece of hardware goes down we are the first to be called. However, a couple of days later it's back to IT bashing. I'm lucky to have the CEO on my side but it would be nice to have the ED there as well.

dsneade
dsneade

The last business I worked for I performed as their IT Manager answering directly to the CEO. It was a small business with 31 employees and 7 senior level managers including myself. All of the software was off-the-shelf. Data processing, HR and personnel, Asset-Risk Liability, among other pieces. I was the first in-house IT employee ever hired. Three months after I was there I noticed some needs that could be addressed with open source software in order to keep costs down. I had a hard time educating the CEO on why open source was so cheap (many cases free). She even made the comment that she didn't want any software that me or my ???Hacker Friends??? created anywhere on our system. I think I looked at her like she had three heads. She has watched too many movies. Eventually, I was successful in implementing a locally hosted XMPP instant messenger for internal use. The employees loved it but she hated it at first. After a few months she couldn't live without it. She still didn't like the idea of open source but didn't want to spend the money for the needed resources. Despite our small size we were experiencing phenomenal customer growth. We scored in the top 3 percentile in customers per employee among our peers nationwide. This number was spun as our ???Efficiency??? rating which our CEO thought was great. Most of our employees, including myself, believed it showed how understaffed we were. I took great care and pride in my work but realized I was unable to maintain a quality with which I was satisfied. I was dealing with more issues than I had time to truly solve, usually just putting a band-aid on an issue rather than working through it and solving it. Sure, in her eyes, the problem was fixed. When I tried to explain to her that it was just a temporary fix she couldn't understand. To her it was either broken or fixed. What can IT people do to get Senior Management to understand what it takes to do our jobs and to do our jobs right?

Trs16b
Trs16b

I could write 50 pages on this subject. Brass tacks. IT is NEVER appreciated even when the company is an IT company. YOU ARE A COST CENTER, you always will be. I once had a VP Sales (at a consulting firm) refer to the consultants as inventory. It costs money to keep inventory. Simply put. You are a product (or a step in corporate production) and a necessary evil. Sales makes the money, even if they cannot complete a sale without IT. You may be the greatest programmer ever born, but you DO NOT make a sale, sales makes the sale. You therefore are a cost of doing business. If you want appreciation become a salesperson or an actor. They hand out awards like candy on Halloween. When did you last see a "insert IT job here" winner of the month with a FREE TRIP to Aruba for 4 nights.

DFO_REXX
DFO_REXX

not consciously, necessarily, but nevertheless that is the end result. We in IT are always seen as overhead, a necessary evil... yes, even in companies like IBM or HP, where large portions of their business need IT people. It's always pained me to know that we can help reduce cost in many areas, but aren't allowed to because "it's not in the budget." Too many department heads are penny-wise and pound-foolish, deciding not to spend $1,000 today to save $1 million tomorrow. I blame it on the growing concern over the company's bottom line and stock price rather than the more valid "produce a good product at a reasonable price and let the stock price take care of itself"... and the cause of that problem is paying executives in stock options. This is the law of unintended consequences. On paper, paying the executives in stock will make them run the company better; in reality, it is an incentive to do whatever it takes to make their stock options more valuable. Sad, really.

cttechie
cttechie

Our IT dept is chronically understaffed and as of a year and a half ago, was taken over by our CFO - who has ZERO IT experience. What that has resulted in is even lower morale, no technological direction (even when presented WITH ideas, that are promptly shot down because she thinks they're too expensive), no progress and lots of petty politics. We're considered overhead, and have been told as such. We are not seen as a profit center that can contribute to the success of the company. The funny thing is, we've been struggling overall for more than 5 years. One of our VERY successful competitors has 5x the IT staff we do for only 40 more employees. I can't wait to leave.

BWKopa
BWKopa

After completing an extremely complicated DR plan successfully, I engaged a Business Continuity guru to do a presentation to the Executive to get them to start on a BC plan. The presentation went through the usual risk assessments, plans and justifications and got to costs. At that point the CFO piped up... "And what is the ROI on the disaster recovery?" Silence hung heavy until the guru replied.. "well that all depends on how many disasters you would like to have.." We got funding.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

First of all, the Gartner Group doesn't have such a stellar performance. Their predictions suck, and why not? They must carefully weigh the metrics between the reality of what will probably happen and the very large major corporations that pay their way. One example might suffice: A Gartner Group rep told me that Sybase would disappear in a year. It took 20 years to be sold off. I'd say, from what I've seen, that there's a .60 probability that everything Gartner says is pretty much crap. But there's a .40 probability that if you ignore them, you'll get bit. Maybe. I've been stuck in the trough of disillusionment for 20 years about Gartner and prefer the more sensible Forrester Folk. My view of IT: Pretty much useless these days. There might be a few exceptions, but that's it. IT has been a drag on institutions for a long time and the quicker the back office stuff moves to off the shelf packages and / or the cloud, the better off everyone will be. If you are still running Payroll / Personnel and Budget / Finance on your IBM Mainframe, your IT folks are fools and you are in deep trouble -- more than you can possibly know, if you are in the organization's management. There are too many really good firms out there who have been doing this for 25 years or more quite successfully. Let me give you some examples. Eastern Washington University had an IBM Mainframe and a staff to build and support the Buget / Finance, Payroll / Personnel and Student Systems. In the mid 1990s, they went out to bid, replaced everything with an off the shelf package and now have two people supporting the servers. That wasn't necessary because the vendor can host everything, but it was Eastern's choice at the time. On the other hand, the Washington Community College, with their aging classic HP3000s (now there's a term you probably haven't heard in a long time) spent tens of millions of dollars with their staff to move to the HP-UX environment and utterly failed. They've hired a vendor last year to do the conversion and expect everything to be up by this September for student regisration. So much money. So little time. No results. Or how about Weyerhaeuser, which thought it could shell out that $112 million and get a brand new integrated system for it. After over a decade of struggle, management entanglements and utter failure, they sold off the entire Containerboard Packaging Division. Lots of money gone for nothing. IT and Corporate Management were an embarassment. And so we get down to the value of IT. The final words of the IT Director to me personally concerning Payroll / Personnel and Budget / Finance in Pierce County on the IBM Mainframe in December was, "I don't know what I'm doing". And I think that says it all.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

For a start your post implies and maintains the fiction that IT doesn't understand business, that we are failing because we are not aligned to it's needs. When we do that we are playing their game and losing, badly. You want some respect within the business, when they come up and tell you, you failed to do something you didn't know you had to do yesterday with no resource to do what you thought you knew you had to do. Tell them they were wrong. Tell them IT is not magic, it's not silver bullet or a panacea. Don't tell them you could have done it if you had a couple of crays, or poached MS's development team, switched to linux etc. You could have done it if they had told you it needed doing, and listened to your needs in order to achieve it, and listened to the consequences of doing it. The lack of respect is not that we keep failing, it that we keep taking the blame for theirs.... But they won't like that will they. You'll be seen as negative, you'll be seen as the problem, they'll probably replace you with the CFO's nephew who's sole IT qualification was they once wrote a macro. Introduce some unfortunate reality into their thinking, just like the CFO would if you went to him or her and told them it would be better if you doubled your staff or replaced all your kit.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

and she'd kick his arse... :p PS get out more, a lot more.

tommy
tommy

Lost count of the number of times I've seen that pattern too, and in all but one of the employers I've every worked for. A project that looks big, hairy, complex, and expensive is taken away from IT control. It's then gifted to finance to manage because they'll look after the budget, or to a department head because they have an idea about what they want out of the project. The end result is invariably a project that's managed (ha ha) by someone who (purportedly) has the vision to complete the project goals, but has no idea of the technical problems that need to be overcome, how to overcome them, or any clue about the consequences of poor change management. The CEO says 'I want this', the bloke in charge says 'I can do that', and the IT department gets told 'sort it'. End result, expensive over budget, time consuming projects. I've had some great experiences with CFO's too however. The best CEO I ever worked for knew that his understanding of IT technologies was poor, so he let those of us who knew what we were doing get on with it. The last big project I worked on for that company involved the CEO, who had the vision, the CFO who could do the number crunching to calculate investment vs savings, and IT who knew how to do the job from a technical perspective. IT also had the project management experience to make it work, unsurprisingly because systems development is all about project management. It's what we do for a living. The end result was a project that was realistic in terms of financial investment, measurable in terms of gains to the business, and achievable because those who understood the technology were an intimate part of the process, not just part of the 'costs' involved. Perfect working team, which got the job done to everyone's satisfaction. The lesson I took away from that project was that all parties concerned need to work together as a team, and CFO's have a huge part to play in the Big Plan. CFO's NEED to be in the loop to maintain the discipline of budget control for sure, but IT projects should, in my experience, be run by senior IT staff, not managed by department heads with no technical, and few, if any, project management skills..

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

seeing as most of us on the shop floor suspect that the CFO and CEO have a big say in who gets the CIO position, what sort of people are they picking. Given the good enough attitude that prevails in corporate IT, 75% of CFOs picked someone who could lose convincing at golf.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

how to get the :p emoticon into your post... It's a : immediately followed by a p got to be a space on either side as well Get in and edit quick, because if anyone thinks you were serious, you are going to be roasted big style. :p = silly.....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

many moons ago I went to one place because they were doing that, it was xml (which says how long ago it was). So we had Xml aware applications on either side of the pond connected by a non-xml capable legacy VPN mailbox system. Needless to say some of the advantages of xml were not realised. The bit I never got was the do or die approach to making it work as though our prospective customers should have some how been cognisant of the amount of effort that was being put in and the unrealisable benefits, and "let us off" and bought it. Well quite rightly they died, bloodily..... Not once did I hear from IT, Finance or operations, that may be it wasn't going to work, or that it was too risky to keep trying, and we should fall back onto good old tried and tested for a while. I've no idea who was lying to who, but I suspect it was all of them and especially to themselves. If I could see the wheels were coming off big style from my lowly perch, they could as well. There's lot more won't than can't in this interface.

BWKopa
BWKopa

"IT poeple often are in it for the new and exciting part of new technology, but too often on the "bleeding edge of technology"." That's right, I constantly want the latest and greatest that usually doesn't have an interface built with my existing systems, has no security, non-standard operating system, and replacement parts have a 6 week shipping date, all because of an article I read on my last flight. And, why don't I cut one headcount cause the sales brochure said I could.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

You should really upgrade that Timex Sinclair man.

jonrosen
jonrosen

Many people like yourself never even GOT to that level to have the slightest clue of what is going on. When it comes to IT, they are like firemen. If things are moving as they should be, they ~LOOK~ like they're not doing much. Just like many managers and higher in my experience. Who I HAVE seen take 4 hr 'lunches', and do little more than play minesweeper most of the day. When IT 'looks' idle, that means that things are running as they should, and they're (hopefully/generally) working to further improve things so there will continue to be a smooth flow to things. It is becoming more and more apparent that many C-titled people, much like, oh, politicians, get paid a full year salary for perhaps 2 months of work, and the rest is simply how they can fill their pockets, while screwing over the people who got them there.

reisen55
reisen55

Unfortunately, your perception is true. IT, Finance and Human Resources are viewed as cost centers that can be reduced, not as just the price of "today" - you have to have it. But since it is viewed as an expense, cut it, outsource to India and be done with it here.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Wow! I'd love to hear someone justify that one, from a business or a technical point of view.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Nalley's Valley, that is, decades ago, of course, a major Mainframe vendor made sales by playing golf with the owners. It should be no wonder that internal lobbyists make their pitch the same way today.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

:D You can spot these guys a mile away. They are the ones who send us on courses for new stuff that we are not going to implement, so it looks like we are on the forefront of technology....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'll bet you a large sum of money there's some really good business reason why it shouldn't be done.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

You see, Mr. Hopkinson, sir, that this was all in house written stuff. Then the people who wrote it left and formed their own company to sell the software to outside agencies, like the State of Texas and the City of Kent. Kinda illegal, but OK, what's a State Agency controlled by 60 other state agencies to do? Anyway, they just have all this legacy code, which can sort of, maybe, be run on the HP-UX machines with some spiffy do utilities that former HP3000 third party vendors have invented -- so the source mostly doesn't need to be redone -- at least the source that hasn't been lost. Things got awfully sloppy, especially with a complete turnover of the staff in a 5 year time frame. Note that many of the HP3000 processors are the classic ones and not the new fangled MPE i/X and the hardware is maintained by third party vendors who still have the parts... for a price. The agency was sort of dismantled, thanks to the political landscape, so the people moved from Redmond to Bellevue to Olympia, mostly. So instead of the sound and reasonable thing, the agency, assisted by the such noble knowlegeable all knowing administrators hired by elected officials in Olympia, decided not to investigate a package which would save them big bucks in the long run, but decided to hire Speedware to revamp the aging mouldy legacy systems. You see -- perfectly reasonable. By choosing this method, the community colleges can continue with the maintenance nightmare of updating code for years to come, running on an operating system for which there are no techs today, after the third party vendor departs the scene if and when the conversion is rendered in September. It's so win-win. Taxpayers will pay for all this and the money flows out of the State, and if my memory serves me right, the millions of dollars will flow out the United States in the form of Canadian Dollars. Uh, Tony, don't you live in the United Kingdom? That whole thing should be a plus for you... sort of. Well, maybe not. I had up a sign at work until RIFfed from being the only Systems Programmer to support the IBM Mainframe for Pierce County, running Payroll / Personnel and Budget / Finance (as they take the next seven years to move off of it): "It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional environment" Do you think I've adequately proved my case?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It would be worth it just to see their faces when they got told.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

They are there to make sure that the management and company don't get sued out of existence. That's about it. That's their only function. If you are OK with an outside firm doing that and you save money to boot, then why not?

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

It's just a job. One way to look at it though -- and what kept me going -- was watching all the silly nonsense. Management is now officially run by stupid clowns who aren't really that funny. Yet, the narcissism, the preening, the "good old girls" networks, the network narcissist III's, the ridiculous HR pronouncements are comedy classics. Conisider the manager standing before us techs proclaiming that the reason we were paid well was because of how she dressed! It was a privilege to work there to hear that and it made my month! At the last, I stayed sane by putting up my 20 pound, 11 year old Siamese Cat up for president: http://mikeyforpresident.wordpress.com/ I think the headline says it all: "Doing Nothing four years at a time". In the case of management, that's maybe four weeks at a time (although the attention span of the VPs I used to work with was 30 seconds -- and my cat has a longer attention span -- which is why he is running for President on the Domestic Companion Ticket). See. You don't have to be all wrapped up in the silliness of management at work. You can take up politics!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Well them bankers f'ed up my pension, and the guvmint keeps raising the retirement age, so I've another 22 years and counting to go, unless my new nigerian mate sends me that money soon... I treat as another set of problems to solve, way more interesting and challenging than building yet another CRUD application.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

They RIFfed me. I had to retire. Best thing. It was killing me. No, really. My Medicare checkup with Group Health revealed after six months being away from the Psychopaths (the IT Managers controlling 85% of the people married to each other in complete conflict of the County laws against conflict of interest), my blood pressure has dropped to better than ever, my heart rate is normal for the first time in decades, my other health challenges have suddently become manageable. Moreover, people seem to think I'm more sane. I've been spending my time very busy with all sorts of projects, one of which has helped me develop deep skills in Microsoft Visual Studio, HTML 5, CSS 3, C# .aspx .net and enabled me to put together one of the most stunningly visual website ever to take down a religious cult. That project has delayed me from learning about the wonders of the technology of heat pumps and developing even more technological skills in materials development. Some time in the next year, I will just have to get around to 3D printing which I've wanted to get into for three years, but just haven't had the time. So I believe that today's business is nuts, IT is useless and the only solution is to leave it all behind and retire. It's too bad I've wasted my time and not done it sooner. I hope you don't have that much further to go... unless you really enjoy being handcuffed, frustrated, being around liars and con men in a completely dysfunctional environment, being unable to do much to really shine using obviously stellar honed technological ability. I'm hopeful, but I'm pretty sure that there isn't a hobby in this world which could make up for the stupid mess of business playing at business when everybody in management is lying, it doesn't make any difference because no one is listening and the lies are only important -- not because anyone believes them, because they don't and knows they are lies -- but because the lies make people feel good, even though they know there is not one ounce of reality to them and it will end in disaster. Their eternal hope is the disaster will come after they move on to greener pastures across the fence.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

to be, it's why I've still got my hair, grey hair admittedly. :(

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

They may or may not have EasyReporter. I don't believe you, of course. It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional environment. If you happen to be competent in that environment, then something is seriously wrong, and you would be wrong and therefore, still incompetent. Some people seem to miss the implications.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Mmmmmm Ummmmm Nnnnnn ! NO ! :D Speedware!, Tell me they didn't have EasyReporter as well. You won't have change much, Just the operating system.... I've seen some crass mistakes made in my career, but I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that one. Thank Cthulu I got away from HP3000 to nice modern MV3100/VMS 5.5 environment. :p

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