Sometimes the Weakest Excuse can topple the Strongest Business Case

By Monica Crocker posted 08-17-2012 17:09


My mom was an IT manager.  At some point in her career, she published an article titled “Top 10 ways to kill an IT project.”  It included some profound observations like “Don’t give the guy that doesn’t show up for the project meetings all the power.”  We’ve all seen that happen; we spend 45 minutes discussing the research that you spent 3 days doing, but we’ll have to send an envoy to Dave’s office and see what he thinks because he couldn’t be here for the meeting and if he doesn’t like our recommendation, we won’t do it.  That’s messed up. 

So I am working on my “Top 10 excuses to kill an information governance project” list that I put together based on my years of consulting and I am going to ask for your help.  Bryant also did a “top 3” contest on this topic recently.  It produced some excellent responses.  Here’s my list so far:

  1. If it can’t be forced upon the user with technology, it can’t be done.  This ignores the power of policies, procedures and training. I see a lot of vendors get caught in this trap.
  2. If it can’t be done with 100% accuracy, it isn’t worth doing. If we held to that standard, we’d never do anything.
  3. Preventing a crisis that hasn’t happened yet is a waste of resources.  I still have nothing but a stunned expression in response to this one.
  4. You can’t expect the business areas to act in the best interest of the organization; they will only act in their own self-interest.  Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, just to be sporting.
  5. We’ll never get upper management support for that.  At least give them the opportunity to say no.
  6. We tried something similar once before and it failed.  Things change.  Maybe now is the perfect time to try again and we just don’t know it.
  7. We can’t prevent people from circumventing the rules, so we can’t make any rules.   You can’t stop me from peeking under the stalls in the ladies room, but you should still have a policy that says I will get fired if I get caught doing that.  Sometimes you have to manage people. 
  8. Any suggestions here?
  9. How about here?
  10. Anyone?  Lists have to be in multiples of 5…that’s just how it’s done.

So, besides being my weekly cathartic dump of work stress, the purpose of this blog is to (1) make you more aware of LAME excuses so that you recognize them for what they are and do not let them prevent forward movement, and (2) to remind you to use the entire assortment of tools in your arsenal as an information professional. 

  • You may not have authority, but you have expertise and a voice, so you can have influence.
  • You may not be able to force a behavior, but you can draft clear, concise policies that prevent or require behavior and then use effective training and management to encourage the right behaviors.  And dress as Vlad the Imapaler on Halloween to really drive your point home(pun intended).
  • You may not have 100% success, but you can have dramatic improvement.
  • You may not eliminate risk entirely, but you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of occurrence of a really bad thing.
  • You may not have a mandate, but you can do research to justify action.  Research that shows why your information governance initiative is critical, beneficial, required or just a way better choice than whatever it is your organization is currently doing.

As one of my favorite slogans says: “Excuses - If you keep asking others to give you the benefit of the doubt, they'll eventually start to doubt your benefit.”

So, what are your favorite excuses?  How about responses to lame excuses?   

#justification #InformationGovernance #ElectronicRecordsManagement #excuse #vladtheimpaler #policyenforcement


08-28-2012 13:19

Something to ponder:
Most teams struggle with the IM Governance issues because they fail to map value to a business case. Every enterprise runs on information today. The first level of value is Revenue based. What is the impact not managing date: legal risk increase, performance drops, access is more complex and production recovery becomes riskier. With today's tools for managing data, both Structured and Unstructured data sources can be quantified as to value based on revenue impacts to the business. Specifically, if any source of data is growing at 2% per month or greater, that directly relates to higher costs of storage, management and risk of loss. There is a direct relationship to costs based on growth. For a Billion dollar company, a 25% growth will drive up both CAPX and OPEX costs at about the same rate, but like a cancer, it will silently reduce revenue opportunity because of performance and recovery risks. A company with a Billion dollar revenue stream requires more than $1900 per minute of revenue. If the application growth is above 25%, this results in a silent slowing down of the core revenue generation abilities due directly to application transactional performance overhead. If one uses only 50% of that impact, this results in a lower revenue transactional ability of about $1650 per minute, limiting annual revenue to about $870 thousand. This will force more investment in both CAPX and OPEX resulting in higher TCO budget challenges that do not go away.
The key take away; effective information management drives both business and IT flexibility, enabling effective resource alignments to meet and protect the business revenue needs of a growing enterprise at the lowest cost of ownership and risk to operations.

08-24-2012 09:07

Not a lame excuse as such, but we have been pushing for a few years for some IM governance. As you say we didn't feel we had the mandate but we have the expertise and we were the only ones that cared. After several attempts we're finally starting to get some traction and we have senior managers and directors asking why they're not involved!

08-20-2012 15:31

We need more information...we can't be sure we have absolutely all the facts. (analysis paralysis)