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IT Consulting for Free

Okay, a slightly misleading title to the blog. What I meant to convey was to see if you think IT departments are properly consulted on system purchases? The IT shop is the place to go for assistance when looking into new systems, we offer free advice (so we don't get left holding the bag later). Do you often feel left out of decisions made by other departments? Like when they start research into alternatives for some new system to meet their needs and don???t even consult IT? Then when we are involved it is often a frustrating situation trying to convince your peer departments within the firm that you are really looking out for their best interests.
Your sister department heads don???t like to hear you poo-poo some solution they want to purchase and get you to implement against your better judgment. And we are usually talking about systems that cost good dollars, and lots of fundage. So often times I find myself asked to look at some almost completed senior management recommendation (decision) on a new system for another department. (insert groan here)

Then we have the situation where we do get invited to be an integral part of the purchasing process. Sometimes this results in our calling ???BS??? when a vendor sales rep claims some nonsense in front of a room full of our fellow company managers (the perspective clients). This is also why non-IT people often hate IT people, listening to us dash their dream as the sales pitch from their beloved vendor goes down in flames. Have you noticed that many vendors now have tech folks on their sales teams to answer our questions? I think they are trying to even the odds.

As part of the acquisition management process to make a final recommendation on any significant software/hardware purchase we in IT have to put in the work to properly evaluate the alternatives. This means research before the decision to buy and often good testing time too. At ACME we use vendor questionnaires, analyst reports from the like of Gartner, reviews from magazines such as Network Computing, consulting from groups like Burton, product demonstrations, and even live ???shoot outs??? between the top alternative contenders. We also have a pretty good lab of systems along with environments for development, testing, staging, and production all apart from each other.

I hope that over time, as we show how our assistance has paid off to our departments in the firm that our fellow managers and directors will know it is a good thing to involve IT as far out as possible in any new system undertaking. They will see the successes but also likely notice where things have failed badly, even if we don???t say ???I told you so??? to those that didn???t heed our advice.