Saturday, July 14, 2012

The problem with IT and management and five problems and their solutions

There seems to be a problem with Information Technology. At least according to management. Let me explain.

#1 Lack of qualified job applicants forcing them to move jobs to third world nations and hiring H1B Visa workers.

#2 Unable to keep expenses under control even with IT workers who earn pennies on the dollar in a third world nation.

#3 Unable to get the quality correct with the product and service even with ISO 9000/9001 certification.

#4 Lack of documentation and communication skills.

#5 High turn around rates in the IT department sometimes reaching as high as 90%.

Despite the fact that the USA has more and more IT, Computer Science, and Engineering college graduates each year and they cannot find a job in their field, how can it be that there are not enough qualified IT workers?

There is a problem in management since long before I was born, a problem in the USA and a problem in how corporations work and function. It is called Classical Management and it needs to be reformed and managers retained for Participatory Management, Servant Leadership, Stewardship and other things. Let me explain.

Managers are often promoted from the field, it is not so much what they know or can do, it is more of a social thing than having a hard work ethic and having good results. This is a social problem, one in which having social skills and being friends with management will take you to the top. You got business meetings but they meet in bars and in some cases strip clubs or whatever and it is all about socializing and hanging out and having good times with each other than talking actual business. This is basically what happens in high school and other areas, you get divided up into social kliqs or social groups and then start excluding others from it.

Perhaps you heard of the glass ceiling? The one that women and minorities cannot break? It is a social ceiling and they run the board of directors and departments. If a woman or minority or woman minority is given a management job they try to control that person as a puppet instead of letting them decide for themselves. It is sort of like a gang of bullies at high school that run the school yard and won't let certain people join. The rules and the law does not apply to them as they are untouchable, royalty, gangsters or gangtas. This happens in other areas of society be it politics, government, non-profit groups, and the like. The old boys' club is basically ruining our economy and business and they get rid of any competition that thinks otherwise. Well I think otherwise.

To me diversity is a good thing, because you have people who think differently than some of the others who can think of things that others cannot figure out. Team work is a must, synergy is a must, but the old boy's network does not know how to make that work. They micromanage employees, they have team building events, they monitor their work and work them extra hours for no extra pay. They just do not know how to manage a diversity of people, so they go out of their way to force those who are different out of management and out of the firm if possible.

Problem #1, lack of qualified IT workers. Why is this a management problem? It is a management problem because management takes the easy route to use web sites to discriminate or reject candidates for the job based on criteria. For example they want Visual C# 2010 developers with 10+ years of experience and at least a bachelor's degree. Wait a minute, it is 2012 and Visual C# 2010 came out two years ago, so how can someone have a decade of experience in it? Sure you have people who have Visual C# 2002 experience for ten years, but they reject them, Visual C# 2002 is too old so anyone who has it on their resume is rejected. Even if they have Visual C# 2010 on their resume as well. Plus there are a lot of experienced people without a college degree or even with an associates degree that could not afford a bachelors degree and they are automatically rejected even if they have Microsoft certification.

I mean not understanding how the technology works or the terms is a big problem in management. If a manager is going to manage someone and hire them for the job, that manager better know the technology and terms the employee will be using and not just read talking points or Powerpoint slides on them. If they did then they'd know that a person with Visual C# 2002 on up to Visual C# 2010 experience is the one they want and not reject them, or set the filters on the web sites to not reject such a person. I mean come on, I have managers bragging to me that they get 500 to 1000 resumes a week for a programming job but no qualified candidates? Really? Check your mental filters and check your web filters too.

Problem #2 unable to keep expenses under control even with workers in third world nations earning pennies on the dollar compared to US workers. I have no hate for foreign workers, in fact I pity them as they are being used and abused and are not given much to show for it in pay and of course no benefits. If they get hurt or sick at work, they are out of a job, end of story. But it seems the more money managers save on labor the more money slips out of their fingers in expenses. You will find most of those expenses are for tech support of the product or service and they offshored tech support as well. All management did was hide the problem, it is usually a quality control problem, communication problem, defect, or just plain confusion.

Look, this makes as much sense as cutting off arms and legs of a patent to stop the bleeding. Your company is bleeding money and instead of finding out where the wound is a close it off and stop the bleeding you've just made the problem worse. There is a thing called job cost accounting let me sum it up you look at your revenues per product or service and assign numbers to track each product or service and then you track expenses by product or service. It is very simple the product and service that has more expenses than revenues are the ones you need to look into. That is where your business is bleeding money. You either need to stop those products and services or figure out what is wrong with them and fix them. Going for cheaper labor is not going to fix the bleeding all of the time. Then replace each product or service that was removed with a different one that you designed better. Remember Apple? Apple removed the Newton and then replaced it with the iPod which led to the iPhone and iPad. If Apple kept the Newton and didn't replace it with the iPod, where would it be today?

Problem #3 Uh sure you passed certification for quality control but still have poor quality. Did you try Six Sigma? Did you try not stressing out IT workers and Engineers and letting them do quality work instead of quantity? Did you try not going with "Fast Food" IT that cuts down the development cycle, cuts out the analysis and design cycle, cuts out documentation cycles, cuts out debugging or assigns it to one or two employees with "Legacy Projects", or did you actually give your IT workers and Engineers the support, time, tools, and training they need to reach their potential and make better quality products and services?

I mean really it used to take months to get things right, but somehow management decided to cut it down to weeks. Management wanted to make promises to have things made quicker faster, and those employees who took too long got fired, but they did quality work, so they are left with "Burger Flipper" quality workers who do the work quick, cheap, and on time. A business plan that works for Fast Food won't work for IT or Engineering. In fact in most cases the business plan makes no sense at all or just plain does not work.

Problem #4 lack of documentation and communication skills. Really you hire workers with English as a Second Language because they work for cheaper labor, and you cut out the documentation cycle, and you of course rush everything to get done as soon as possible and shortcuts are taken and then you ask "Where is the documentation? How come the employees didn't do it exactly the way we wanted it?" I mean common sense tells you why that happens.

Uh look giving ESL courses is nice, maybe a few weeks, teach workers how to communicate in English better. But it takes years if not decades to get to the level you want them at. You'll be better off learning their native language or hiring a translator, or just giving ESL workers extra time to document things better. You need to set up native English speakers with ESL speakers and have them teach each other and train better communication skills. You need to train employees on proper documentation and proper design specifications with more details than just Powerpoint slides.

Problem #5 High turn-around rates, how is that not a management or environment problem? Either you have to learn how to manage employees better and give them their freedoms, or you have to figure out if you have a toxic work environment that just breeds stress or both. Are you paying employees enough in a salary, are you providing good enough benefits? Do you have any workplace bullying? You could have sociopaths as workers or managers that just drive people away.

Something has to be done, or else a high turn-around will drain your talented employees away to your competitors. Your managers could be the problem, your employees could be the problem, you might even have to provide some diversity training. If this is happening to your company, something is wrong. You need to fix it before it gets worse.

TL;DR most of the problems with business are management related, and I am showing five problems and how they could be fixed. Management keeps blaming employees, but after excuses and excuses and downsizing and firing workers in mass groups and then claiming there is a lack of qualified workers, well after eliminating the problems with the workers, what do you have left to blame but the management? Take responsibility for your own management mistakes and learn from them.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative and well written post! Quite interesting and nice topic chosen for the post.
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