The best IT professionals are passionate about their work. They read trade publications, hang out on forums, and contribute to code repositories and other shared resources.
That passion makes them good at what they do, but it can also lead them astray in the workplace. Sometimes developers become so fixated on their favorite aspects of technology that they make well-intentioned decisions that ultimately hurt the company.
It falls on senior leadership to monitor these IT obsessions to make sure they don’t get out of hand.
Here are some of the worst offenders:
Staying on top of the latest technology is part of being a good IT professional, and the First Mover Advantage is real. Investing in promising technology early has the potential to provide a serious competitive edge.
However, some take it too far. These people jump to adopt exciting new trends that aren’t quite market-ready, essentially volunteering their companies as test subjects for unproven technology. If they haven’t done their homework, there could be major issues that negate the first-mover advantage.
The highly competitive automotive industry is an excellent example. In an industry-wide survey, JD Power found that new car owners most often complained about the cutting edge features that were meant to be market differentiators.
Unfortunately, these features weren’t ready for wider use. Voice recognition, which is highly popular and increasingly reliable now, caused a full 10% of new car complaints in 2015. Waiting just a little longer would have allowed the technology to mature enough to meet customer expectations.
There’s another risk with trend hoppers. Without oversight they may discard tools that show promise as soon as (or even before) they achieve a respectable ROI in favor of the “next best thing”. Besides lowering the lifetime value of tech investments, this inhibits the adoption of future projects.
Staff become reluctant to use new technology for fear it will be suddenly replaced. They don’t want to be constantly learning new tools for novelty’s sake; they want to be using the tools that work best. A lack of support can kill even well-planned projects before they start.
To keep trend hoppers in line, emphasize the need for more than the “cool factor” when considering new technology.
There must be other factors, such as:
- Issues with the current process;
- Demonstrated better results with a new solution;
- Low risk to testing a new solution.
Hanging onto Hardware
There’s beauty in a well-built, well-maintained server room, but insisting on physical hardware can damage a company’s agility. New projects can’t begin development until construction on the necessary hardware systems is complete.
Plus, physical infrastructure requires significant investment. There’s the upfront cost of actually buying, installing, and configuring hardware. Maintenance and security (both digital and physical) raise operating expenses even more.
In the vast majority of cases, these are unnecessary hurdles. Cloud storage and computing solutions are maturing into more viable solutions than maintaining in-house hardware for most purposes. They’re easy to set up and come with built-in vendor maintenance.
If the company moves, there’s no hardware to transport or interruption to workflows while technicians get the system running again.
Initial costs with cloud storage are relatively low, too. Companies can buy only what’s needed, then add capacity as required. Ongoing costs operate much like a utility. As a result, software built using cloud solutions begins paying for itself much sooner than its hardwired counterparts.
Data has the potential to find or create incredible opportunities. Hoarding data without putting it to work wastes that potential. It costs money together, scrub, store, protect, and maintain data. If it’s not being used, it represents a liability instead of an asset.
That’s what a frustrating number of companies are experiencing, though. 40% aren’t using their data to generate insights, despite spending an average of 20 hours a week gathering it.
What’s behind this hesitation?
- Options paralysis: There are so many ways data can be used that it’s hard to know where to start.
- Unusable data: Data is collected but never prepared for use in analytics.
- Lack of support: Executive leadership isn’t backing adoption of data initiatives.
- Data silos: Data gets caught in silos where only a small group of people can access it.
When data hoarding becomes a problem immediate, targeted action can shake things loose. Find specific ways to use data, encourage adoption, and leverage those successes into creating a wider data-driven culture.
Using Square Pegs for Round Holes
Sometimes IT professionals “fall in love” with a tool. It works exactly how they like to work, and they want to use it for every possible purpose. They try so hard to make it fit that they overlook a better solution.
The result is unnecessarily complex software and workflows. Even when the favorite tool works for an unsuitable purpose, it takes more time and money to compensate for the bad fit.
For instance, while enterprise apps are wildly popular right now there are some situations in which they aren’t the best solution. A repair company’s dispatch app could reduce inefficiency in daily workflows, but trying to patch in all partner vendors as well as internal staff would probably cause the app to fail.
Those requirements are too broad for an app, which is meant to provide excellent service over a narrow range of operations.
This can be the hardest habit to break because executives rely strongly on technology recommendations from their staff. In the earliest planning stages of any project, make a point of stepping back and considering several options dispassionately.
Get input from a variety of stakeholders. Make sure the final decision is based on the best fit, regardless of whether it is the coolest tool.
One thing to keep in mind: these habits usually aren’t conscious choices. While they can have serious negative effects, IT professionals don’t mean to damage the company. Their bad habits are merely blind spots.
Executives will get the best results by avoiding a confrontational approach when working around these issues. This philosophy has the double benefit of finding the best solution for the company and helping the developer recognize the potential impact of their habit.
The best way to avoid becoming mired in bad IT habits is to encourage active communication and cooperation within a development team. At Concepta, we have 12 years of experience balancing the strengths and weaknesses of team members during the web development process. To find out how our approach could work for your next project, set up your free consultation today!