CEOs have long complained to me about information technology. They complain about high-priced consultants, and that IT projects are too expensive and fail to yield a return on investment.

Indeed, two 2011 studies underscored the need for IT professionals to become more businesslike.

Study No. 1

At ITBusinessEdge, Ann All wrote a dynamic piece, “Don’t Let IT Projects Get Out of Control.”

In it, she cites a study by McKinsey consultants and Oxford University that show both public and private sector IT projects can be a headache.

But the public sector gets more criticism thanks to enterprising journalists.

Ms. All cites Oxford Researcher Bent Flyvbjerg in a article.

“A big one is lack of senior executive involvement,” she writes. “Senior managers have tended to see IT as less strategic and delegate responsibility for it…”

She quotes researcher Flyvbjerg, who provides his five solutions to prevent out-of-control IT projects.

The five solutions include:

1. Benchmark it. This should be the first step, says Flyvbjerg, because it will help organizations understand everything that follows.

2. Get the bias out of the business case. The researchers found most IT projects are “highly biased,” with inaccurate estimates of costs, schedules and benefits.

3. Minimize complexity. This advice gets repeated a lot.

4. Limit project duration. The researchers found that projects that lasted longer than 30 months are the most likely to go out of control.

5. Get a master builder. It’s important to enlist someone with proven project experience, Flyvbjerg says.

Study No. 2

A Tenable Network Security study indicates 90 percent of security professionals are aware of reported breaches, but the majority don’t take proper action.

That’s right, the Tenable press-release headline reads: “90 Percent of Security Pros Take Note of High-Profile Breaches, But Majority do Nothing.”

The study surveyed attendees at the 2011 Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit. More than 90 percent were aware of the Citigroup, RSA and Sony breaches, but only 23 percent didn’t act on the information.

It gets worse.

“Nearly half (46 percent) of attendees surveyed had experienced some form of insider threat while at their current company, but surprisingly ‘preventing insider threats’ was ranked the second-lowest information security priority for the next six to eight months by the field,” said the press release.

“Even more surprising, one in three security professionals admitted that they had violated internal security policies they created in order to complete a work-related task quickly and/or easily,” Tenable added.

Yes, part of the problem with such IT projects is the lack of full participation by upper management, but clearly, chief information officers and their staffs have to do some needed footwork in communication and planning.

From the Coach’s Corner, related resource links:

Why CFOs Are Still Calling the Shots in IT Decisions The top IT decision-maker for many companies is not the chief information officer — the chief financial officer is, according to a Garner study.

How CIOs Can Get More Respect in the C-Suite — Despite the importance of their work, chief information officers have difficulty earning respect from senior executives. Here’s what to do about it.

4 Keys So Marketing and IT Can Create Business Revenue — Businesses will generate more revenue if their information technology and marketing professionals strategize more effectively. For instance, success in e-commerce is increasingly challenging for companies that want to dominate in brand preference, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising.

4 Recommendations to Avoid Spending Too Much on IT — To take advantage of big cost savings in information technology, a study says businesses need to change their buying habits. Here’s how.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

-Bill Gates


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.