Tuesday, July 30, 2002

IT vs. Upper Management

I had an interesting conversation with one of our sales reps today. We sell mid-range payroll/HR software. The sales person I was talking to noted that she often got in easier with a company when she talked to the upper management, CFO, and/or CEO of a company. Since our software costs many thousands of dollars they are often involved anyway. But the key is that the sales person sells the features and benifits to managment before the IT staff has a chance to evaluate and deside if the product will work with the current infrastructure.

I found this particularly interesting because it happened to our own company. Our current customer database application is crap and a real pain to administrate. My boss and myself were not consulted until after the product was purchased. The sales person who sold us the product went to the CEO and Sales VP directly. He did an awesome job of selling the product and then the IT staff got the shaft.

The product has had nothing but problems from the start and it has not gotten any better with two version upgrades. Now the sales person wants to sell us a newer more "powerful" product. I just found out about it and right now my boss and I are out of the loop, again.

Here is a quote from James Riis as posted at ZDNets' TalkBack section:

"It's quite a challenge to explain the benefits and differences between the $50 solution and the $500 dollar solution. For example, Great Plains and PeopleSoft both sell accounting software. While on the technical side it's easy to explain the performance and scalability differences. On the business side, each product handles the accounting work. So they then conclude that all things are equal, so choose the least expensive one.

I guess it's a lack of trust by the business folks. They believe that technology people want to implement the latest and greatest (aka most expensive)."

Frankly I'm not sure if that is the problem at my company or not but I'll stick my neck out on this one. I WILL NOT support another junk application. If given the chance I will research and evaluate every product that can do what we need, regardless of past loyalties or sales hype. As I discovered from my sales rep co-worker, sales people don't want to talk to IT. We are often (not always) too cautious to be caught up by sales hype.

Well it looks like it's little ol' me, Mr. IT boy against the big bosses. Good thing they like me a lot. I think they have to, they know I could wipe all the servers in about 5 minutes and since I built the network I could tear it down too. I would never do those things, but certainly that has to be in the back of thier heads. It wouldn't destroy the company, but it sure would make things hell for awhile. What they don't seem to understand is that the system is near hell already!

We are not a large company. Fourty employees is not too difficult for a single IT guy to manage. (My boss has other things he has to do, so IT is 98% mine) However with those 40 employees we have SEVEN databases. Only three of them can talk to each other, but they do not work together well. Of those 7 DBs, there are 4 different databases types too! Now it doesn't take an IT genious to realize that is a highly inefficient way to hold your data, especially when the data tables need to be linked!

Ok ok, enough bitching about work. I'll let you know how my battle goes. I've been pretty good at argueing my point when necessary, lets hope this doesn't become ugly.

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