I saw an interesting post over on Daily Cup of Tech yesterday about identifying application “champions” throughout your organization. The objective is to help manage IT workload in smaller organizations, and to get the right people doing the right jobs (i.e. your receptionists doing Word templates, your CAD people owning AutoCAD, etc.). I'm a big proponent of this - under the right circumstances - but you have to be aware of how IT is perceived by the organization if you want this to be received in the manner that it's intended.
So I posted a comment that ran a bit long (okay… ran too long to be a comment), and I just wanted to link it up here. Reason being, that while I really like the ideal of identifying non-IT people as the application “champions” or “owners”, and I’ve seen it work to varying degrees, I also wanted to post an excerpt to point out the other side of that coin when wearing the leadership/owner hat…
(Putting on the ownership/leadership hat now)If you’re in IT serving in an overhead capacity, and other departments are billable… “you’ve got a problem. It’s your job to be the technology catch-all (just like the receptionist/secretary is a catch-all). Further, I’d argue that if you think you’re perceived as “more valuable” by organizational leadership relative to the receptionist who makes 1/3 (or whatever) of what you make… you’ve probably got your head screwed on wrong. You’re 3x the cost, and your value probably isn’t perceived day-to-day. So from an ownership/ leadership perspective… if IT isn’t pulling their own weight, why keep them around? I kid you not… for the vast majority of small and midsized organizations that I’ve been involved with, the value-add of IT isn’t perceived beyond the break-fix of the day-to-day. So forget all of your big-dreams and interesting Exchange 2007 migration projects. No one really cares besides the IT group. And why does no one care? Because your IT managers consistently (and repeatedly) overpromise and under-deliver. Beyond that, every three years you go and complain about not having new equipment, not having good training, not making enough money. You’re just a cost-center that someone hasn’t gotten around to cutting…”
(Taking the ownership hat off) Harsh? Maybe… but that’s the perspective of ownership in some organizations. And the reason that I point it out is because it’s extremely important for you to understand the context for success inside that type of organization. So, if you can get buy-in for application “owners”, do it… it’s great, and it makes life more manageable in a smaller organization. But keep in mind, that while you’re trying to get buy-in on having application owners, consider the other side of the coin, and make certain that ownership/leadership’s take away isn’t that “IT’s too lazy to do their jobs”.