A significant factor in how smoothly a project is completed is a team's culture, whether it's bogged down by extra hoops to jump through, a negative environment, or even size. And when time to market affects the business's bottom line, an IT team's efficiency becomes even more important, as I learned.
Back in the early 1990s, I was working for a regional bank that was part of a larger banking parent company. We retained our own name, brand, and a separate technology platform, so it was not apparent to most people that we were not our own bank.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Batten down the hatches, there's an IT rogue on the loose! Here's how to spot admins gone bad and how to minimize the fallout. | Get a new tech tale in your inbox every week in InfoWorld's Off the Record newsletter or follow Off the Record on Twitter. ]
Internally, it was a different story.
The IT teams didn't interact that often. But there was a sense that the regional bank was the stepchild of the parent company, and we were treated as such. For example, one of the people who worked for me managed our mainframe printing environment. There was an annual national conference that he would have benefited from. I tried multiple times to get approval from the parent bank for him to attend, but was always told it was not in the budget and to try again next year.
One year, I called the parent bank's IT team to request they make a small change to a print job it ran for us. I happened to make the request when the meetings were being held. The response: "Can this wait until next week? Most of our people are attending the conference this week."
Despite such instances, our group enjoyed an important benefit: We were more technically nimble. We were smaller, we knew who did what, and we could get things done quickly. The parent company's team had many more silos and red tape, and any time we had to coordinate with them it took many times longer than necessary. Getting them to do something was like turning an oil tanker.
But for the most part, our IT departments kept to ourselves and we were given enough space to make decisions that worked best for our region's needs.