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“Just In Time” Delivery of I.T.

Do you feel like your I.T. department is not responsive to your needs? Does it seem like they can deliver what you’re asking for but not as quickly as you need it? Maybe if you applied the basics of concurrent engineering and some similar JIT principles, these perceptions would improve.
For whatever reason, I.T. is often left out of discussions which they should be apart of. It may be the perception that they are just the techies, but they oftentimes represent a great untapped resource for their knowledge and understanding of the business environment. Unlike marketing, accounting, and engineering, which each can contribute discrete work products without interaction across the organization (I’m not saying this is a good thing, it’s just possible), I.T. usually has to take into account the interactions among all departments when building enterprise applications. This gives them a unique view of the workflows and politics within each department.
Aside from being a great untapped resource, I.T. is a department with scarce resources, just like every other department. The earlier that you involve them in your process, the likelier you are to achieve your deadline. Early involvement does a couple of things. First, it allows you to learn of tradeoffs and potential limitations early in the process – when it is easier and cheaper to make changes. Secondly, it gets your project put on the master production schedule. It’s easier to get buy-in on deadlines the earlier they are involved.
Simply giving a heads-up that some project is about to be dumped off on them is not good enough. If you cannot specify the start date, scope of work to be performed, and requested deadline, you have not provided them with enough information for them to make changes in their work schedule.
Just to recap:
1) Involve the I.T. department early in the project to help indentify design constraints and trade-offs.
2) Don’t discount their point of view simply because you think they’re techno-geeks. They have a unique vantage point to view all the workflows and politics of your organization from.
3) Share your planning calendar with the I.T. department. You know what your big deadlines are over the next 6 months – let them know ahead of time as well. Sure, things pop up here and there – but not everything in business can be a surprise!

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