Columnist Says Focus on Four Areas - Including Integration - Could Save IT

Loraine Lawson

John Schmidt, the vice president of Global Integration Services at Informatica Corp., thinks he knows the silver bullet for fixing IT.


According to Schmidt, something is wrong with IT -- very wrong. He points to IT's dismal success rate, citing a 2004 Standish CHAOS report that found only 29 percent of all IT projects succeed.


I'll grant you, a three-year-old stat is pretty dated. But, a 2006 Accenture study uncovered the same 29 percent success rate. It further revealed that the average cost overrun on IT projects is 56 percent and the typical delay is 84 percent.


IT doesn't need better technology or better software engineering techniques, according to Schmidt. What it needs is better discipline in four key areas:

"The root cause is lack of discipline (read leadership) in the practice of architecture, integration, program management, and change management."

You gotta love the fact that integration made the list. A year ago, I would've thought integration would actually be a subset of one of the other categories: architecture, perhaps, or even change management. But now I understand better why systems integration deserves to make the big four. It's just such a massive and ongoing problem for IT and so far, none of the other three disciplines has managed to successfully tackle the issue.


He suggests you can learn about 80 percent of what you need to know about these four areas by reading the Mythical Man-Month.


But here's my favorite part of the post:

"If an organization was to focus on these four practice areas, put their strongest leaders in charge of them, and invest in training and tools for the staff, then the (Gartner) hype cycle will disappear."

Well, you can't blame a guy for dreaming.


Coincidentally -- or maybe not, given the enduring popularity of the book -- Microsoft developer Raymond Chen also recommended The Mythical Man-Month just last week on his blog, The Old New Thing. The famous book made his top-three reading list -- along with The Design of Everyday Things and Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail -- for managers and designers.

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