Windows Vista

I am writing this post from my primary home PC, which runs Windows Vista. As I switch between it and my work PC, which runs XP, I would be hard pressed to tell you the difference. The only things that come to mind are:

  • Vista’s radically different Search user interface and
  • User Access Control.

I find both annoying. But, I am a geek and when I am home I enjoy trying out the latest and greatest. I also have a MacBook running OS X Leopard and my old home built PC runs Ubuntu Linux (I had time to build PCs?).

Other than some minor annoyances I like Vista and I would not consider switching back to XP.  I would also add that there are annoyances with all of these Operating Systems.  I find Apple’s Vista claims disengenuous.  I found just as many OS X Leopard annoyances and incompatibilities.  For example, my SuperDuper backup would not work and I could no longer import my Flip video into the new version of iMovie.

But, when I am working I am a business person. Every day I am faced with a limitless number of opportunities to make Ministry and Affinity a better place for our patients, doctors and employees. Upgrading the operating system on our 14,000 PCs is not on that list of opportunities. That is why we are taking a pass on Vista. Not that anything is wrong with Vista. It works great for me. But I would rather spend our team’s time working on electronic health records, patient safety initiatives and reducing the cost of healthcare to our Wisconsin communities.

Testing Vista alone would take thousands of hours. Getting our users acclamated to the OS would be another huge investment in time. When you are multiplying everything by 14,000 it adds up quickly.

USA Today has an article on Vista and I am quoted liberally (more than John Halamka – woohoo). I thought Jeff Graham did I nice job with the article. But, I love having a blog because it gives me a chance to expand on the quotes in the article.

On a personal note, the USA Today photographer came out to our Weston facility and took about 200 pictures of me and about 5 of some of our employees doing their day-to-day work. Despite having the dds in my favor, It appears from the online version to go with one of the pictures without me. Actually, that is the way it should be. These are the people providing the service to our patients. IT is a support department and we should be in the background.  Update: I just got the print version.  I see there is a photo of me too.  The caption made me cringe a little.  How do I look?

Geurrilla IT

My goal here is to post original content.  I generally don’t like to use this space to comment on someone else’s work.  But this InfoWorld article quotes me.  So, in the interest of self-promotion I am linking to it here:

Guerrilla IT: How to stop worrying and learn to love your superusers

I have always embraced our tech savvy employees.  They are my people.  When others were writing Internet Access policies that restricted employees use to “business-related sites,” we were encouraging people to join the Internet revolution.

I realize that IT cannot meet every possible need.  With tools like QuickBase we can unleash our tech savvy employees to meet their own needs, while keeping them in a sandbox.

As a bonus, the story also talks about Maureen Vadini, a former Parma Community General Hospital nurse that moved to IT to implement the Vocera communicator.

Speaking of Parma, does anyone else my age remember the Ghoul.  I think he was local to Detroit.

Failure

My person approach to IT management centers around success.  Most IT projects fail.  Some quite spectacularly, but most in a quieter way.  I believe these are the three leading contributors to failure:

Poor Project Plans and Resource Allocation

My personal experience is that most IT departments do not have a good sense for the amount of time they have to spend on IT projects.  All of the data I have collected since I have been studying this suggests that only 15% to 25% of total staff time is available to work on new projects.  If organizations take on more work than they can complete, everything proceeds at a snail’s pace and nothing ever truly gets done.

The only way to manage resources in a large organization is to have detailed plans for every project and to look at the resource requirements across all of your plans.

Vendor Performance

Just as IT departments over-allocate their resources, so do vendors.  Vendor performance issues are usually more related to them not providing services in the time expected (or not having a common expectation with the vendor) than bad software.  However, sucky software is still an issue.

Lack of Clear Expectations

If someone’s goal is just to implement some software than, in my opinion, they have failed by default.  Each IT implementation should have clear business benefits and those benefits need to remain insight throught the effort.

Am I missing other common contributors to failure?