"I worked with one IT manager who really didn't like to hand out information about the network infrastructure," says Josh Stephens, head geek at SolarWinds, a network management software provider. "He was fine with letting other people handle servers and periphery switches, but he controlled the core of the network and didn't want anyone else to know how it worked. He liked being the go-to guy for this."
[ For advice on how to thrive through the downturn, see "IT survivor: 7 tips for career growth in tight times." ]
One weekend, when the manager was out of the country, the company had an outage. Nobody could bring the system back up because they didn't know how it was set up, says Stephens.
"They had to start from scratch and rebuild the core of the network. It took a day and a half when it probably should have taken an hour," Stephens says. "These people think they look smarter by knowing things nobody else knows. In my experience, you look smarter by sharing information and teaching the people around you."
Besides hoarding information, another common form of IT gluttony is the hoarding of projects, says Marcelo Schnettler, vice president of a small consulting firm in Jersey City, N.J. Some IT managers just can't say no -- which can prove disastrous over the long haul.
"Senior management either takes on these projects because they want the attention and funding that comes with trying to get all of these projects done, or they're psychologically unable to turn it down," Schnettler says.
The result: IT departments end up running at emergency maximum levels for every project, then are unable to handle a real emergency because no one's available to attend to it.
"I personally left an IT department that ran on crisis mode for three years," Schnettler says. "Everyone worked 60- to 80-hour weeks, weekends, and God forbid if you tried to take a vacation. As far as I know, it is still running that way today."
IT sin No. 3: Avarice as an action item
When an IT project fails, more often than not, it is due to a lethal combination of arrogance and greed, says Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret, a consultancy that specializes in reducing IT project failures.
The problem, says Krigsman, is what he calls "the devil's triangle": naive or arrogant customers who craft hopelessly unrealistic RFPs (requests for proposals); system integrators and consultants who promise to deliver what they know is impossible; and technology providers caught in the middle.
"Even when the integrators go into a project with good faith, they face a conundrum," says Krigsman. "Do they tell the customer that the RFP is doomed to fail and lose the opportunity to win that business? Or do they do what the customer asks and run the risk of failing?"
Failing causes more hassles for integrators, notes Krigsman, but it almost always means more money in their pockets as they rack up hourly surcharges fixing fundamental flaws. "That's where the greed kicks in," he says. Meanwhile, tech providers, loath to alienate the integrators that provide them with cash-paying customers, take a hands-off approach.
According to Krigsman, to overcome inherent greed, you must build incentives for success into the agreement. Consider, for example, an early completion bonus, combined with stiff penalties for projects that run late or over budget.