Should IT ever say “No” to the Business?
In a word. NO! Or, to put it another way NO. Never. Ever. NO!
I know what you are thinking…
“There will be sometimes when we (IT) just have to say no
because what they want us to do is just plain wrong, illogical, stupid, crazy,
etc, etc, etc. Like if they asked us to give all their customers a Tablet and
expect us to maintain them, or if they asked us to remove all the backup
storage, or if they told us to use COBOL instead of JAVA…..”
The point is - who is to decide what is wrong, illogical,
stupid, crazy, etc, etc, etc.
“The Business” will have access to much more information
than IT and therefore IT will never be in a position to say what they are being
asked to do is wrong, illogical, stupid, crazy, etc, etc, etc. From an IT
persons perspective things may well look wrong, illogical, stupid or crazy but
from the Business perspective things may look so obviously right that they find
it hard to understand why IT is saying no and appearing to be trying to block
This does not, of course mean that IT will not have an
opinion and may offer recommendations, but that is very different.
When IT starts to make decisions and therefore effectively
refuses to do what the Business asks of it, it immediately puts IT in the role
of a blocker, a problem, a difficult child, a loose cannon, a “difficult
person”. IT being seen in this light is a major major problem - for IT itself
but more importantly for the entire Enterprise.
IT needs to understand its place (and especially the role of
EA) is to make “The Business” aware of the implications of what they are asking
IT to do. By doing so, IT forces “The Business” to take accountability for
those decisions. If not, the IT department will continue to be its own worst
The business is in control of an Enterprise but many have
lost control of the IT department. EA puts the business back in control of
Enterprise Transformation, including the IT department, and at the same time
allows the people in the IT department to sleep at night.
The caveat is, of course, if “The Business” bestows on IT
the power to make certain decisions within specified limits. If this happens,
it is still not IT making the decision. It is still the Business making the
decision. IT is merely the messenger, and if problems accepting that decision
come about, then it is ultimately the business whose responsibility it is to
defend or change it.