TechRepublic member Daniel Fogarty has a big problem. His CIO asked him to evaluate and recommend a collaborative software solution for the organization. Because the CIO asked only that the team recommend a solution, Fogarty and his team created their own criteria for the selection process.

Can you help?
Now Fogarty is in a tight spot because his team is turning up more questions than answers. He and members of his team are uncomfortable with the situation because they are “just technologists” and do not want to run a project with far-reaching business implications.

Are you familiar with this scenario? Can you help Fogarty? What advice would you give? Read Fogarty’s post below and join the discussion.

Give a manager helpful advice
Fogarty: Recently, the CIO asked our team to research collaborative tools and select the top leaders in the industry. But research was not his objective and we knew that. “Give a recommendation of the top two products you’d select for our company,” he said. And so we did.

It didn’t matter that we lacked specifics, a business driver, or measurable goals to make our recommendation. It didn’t matter that we lacked a technology champion. “We need to collaborate!” was the CIO’s battle cry.

So we grappled with these considerations on our own:

  • Our employees need to share documents and participate in threaded discussions, videoconferencing, whiteboarding, subscriptions to topic areas, etc.
  • Any tool must integrate with the daily work processes of employees, yet not be additive in nature.
  • The tools have to fit with our existing architecture.
  • We need to present a feasible, seamless solution to our business units.

Tell us your current project nightmares

Are you experiencing your own project headaches? Tell us about it. Send us a brief description of what’s bugging you. If we select your story, we’ll turn it into an article and ask other managers in the TechRepublic community for advice.

We recommended solutions based on these generic selection criteria. But the problem is that the IT team knows the importance of selecting solutions that make any tool fit with our intranet, content management and e-mail system, enterprise data integration, document management, Web infrastructure, etc. Yet, without clear direction, the team has more questions than answers.

Our IT staff knows the value of collaboration and knowledge management tools. We know that communication and collaboration tools can help an organization quickly identify issues and develop solutions. But it’s not enough.

It’s difficult for the team to execute a project plan without clear guidelines, business metrics, a technology champion, or a specific problem to solve.

We must also consider how a solution will affect users. Life would be grand if employees would understand the value of a new technology, embrace it, and use it with resounding enthusiasm so that we could go on with our business of being technologists.

But employees, in general, rarely adopt new technologies easily. Also, the demands of the business and the need to gain information quickly are growing. This takes time away from learning a new system. Never mind trying to get users to alter the way they communicate and conduct business with coworkers and partners.

Our management team recognizes that significant cultural barriers to collaboration exist, and we have presented our ideas to the CIO. However, our advice seems immaterial. And maybe that’s the way it should be. After all, we are just technologists.

What’s your advice?

What advice do you have for Fogarty? What direction should he take? How should he continue his research and present his ideas to his CIO? Let him know what you think by joining the discussion below.