Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Even if it ain't broke, you might fix it

Some of the famous last words in IT are, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." They define the two sides of a coin toss: one side keeps idle hands from causing problems messing with things that should be left alone, while the other side can often perpetuate ______ (software, hardware, processes...) that end up costing the company more to avoid dealing with them than a solution.

Examples include that server standing off in the corner of the data center hardwired with a mess of cables running some old application on an aging OS. You know the one. Maybe it's that laser printer that has faded to that olive-tan color unique to vintage computing equipment. The one that with the toner you can only find on eBay. Sure the toner doesn't last as long as it used to, but it's fairly cheap. Right?

Writing in Information Week, Peter Waterhouse of CA says that running an outdated IT strategy and managing to the status quo is a recipe for IT disaster. To avoid the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it mentality," Waterhouse suggests four things to keep in mind:

IT needs to watch over the business
IT touches all aspects of a company. IT strategists should use this vantage point to go beyond technical improvements to looking for wider processes and attitudes that might be broken.

Invest in continuous change
Successful businesses can remodel themselves when necessary. IT needs to enable the enterprise to be agile by being agile themselves.

Ruthlessly prioritize and consolidate
The old statistic about maintaining the status quo consuming 70% of IT's budget applies here. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" can leave a company without options for moving to newer technology. Seek out places to find savings to implement new innovations.

Stop meeting and start thinking
Rigid brainstorming sessions prevent real innovation and usually result in traditional outcomes. For well-understood problems, this might be alright, but new challenges might require stepping outside the organization to find external developer networks and customers that can provide some innovative viewpoints.

At Uplogix, we confront "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" thinking everyday. As an innovative solution that impacts a variety of traditional networking areas, it's not uncommon to find resistance to change. But for those with the understanding of the true costs of the status quo, Local Management can inspire a new mantra -- "if it's broke, let Uplogix fix it!"