Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Infromation Systems Failures - The Failures of Leadership

Information Systems Failures - The Failures of Leadership

When we say hi-tech, the first thing that comes to people’s mind is Information technology - computers, digital gadgets and high definition TV. The business side of the story of information technology is totally different from the consumer side. It’s common to see the failures of million dollar IT projects. - >ERP, CRM or Supply Chain projects.

There’re many causes of information system failures - the complexity of the technology, the evolution of business processes and practice. The number one cause of information system failure is, however, the failure of leadership or management. We can hardly find a CFO who isn’t a CPA (Certified Public Account), but it’s common see a senior vice president of IT who used to be a printer salesman, a vice president of IT who happened selling cars for GM for years, or an IT director or manager who knows more about restaurant than computers. For computer technicians, A+ certification is an industry standard for qualification of the jobs, but for system analysis and design, there’s no such industry standard certification. If IT management is not required to understand the technical details of information technology, they should at least know how information systems should be implemented.

The history of ERP has been full of IT project failures that ran by managers who don’t have either IT degrees or hands-on experience. The progress of CRM has come at the loss of billions of dollars. The implementation of supply chain is even more challenging and painful as it requires the collaborations across organization boundary. This is another topic to figure out the reason for lack of industry standard certification for IT management or analysts. Before that happens, IT management needs to understand >ERP definition, or what is ERP before they threw out millions of dollars, then just say we’ve learned a lesson. That lesson was too expensive.