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IT/Business Alignment: Can't We All Just Get Along?

It ought to be simple, says software developer Dan Tienes, but working with IT too often is anything but.

IT departments lose out when staff refer to users as "lusers," and scorn, ignore or treat their customer base like the enemy. That's right - customer base. And the customers? They are too often clueless about the role they play in project failures, and in general, about why IT can or can't do something.

Dan Tienes, a former programmer and current software development manager, is so concerned about this, that he is writing a book, tentatively titled "It Ought To Be Simple: How To Work With Your Company's IT Department," about the failure of IT/business alignment, and how the problem lies more with people, than processes. To get a taste of Tienes' views, read his essay, "I'm An Idiot," and his follow-up piece that responds to the sometime vitriolic peer reaction the original article triggered after it was Slash-Dotted.

Despite having written several essays that have earned him the wrath of some in the IT profession, Tienes says he is ultimately committed to helping IT professionals, and the businesses they serve, to better understand each other. While his book is targeted more at business users, he has a lot to say to the IT rank-and-file and their managers.

For starters, change your attitudes. Referring to users as "lusers" is a self-fulfilling prophesy - if you don't view them with respect, you won't treat them with respect. And that respect is crucial to building good communication and a solid understanding of each others' needs and issues.

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