How to move on when dealing with a bad IT

More than 18 years ago I moved from IT to Marketing, and since then a great part of my work has meant interacting with Information Technology managers and teams. My IT counterparts have since then had to cope with me having “too much” understanding on IT issues. This has been for them a mixed blessing and much has depended on their willingness to work together for a common goal or on the contrary defending spending and quality of work.

When we were able to join forces results came and we really enjoyed the ride. At one point we were so well integrated that our work brought DevOps to a new level: MarketDevOps. A single, cross-functional team with a single objective, incredible time-to-market and unbelievable cost-efficiency. One day IT was reorganized and everything we so lovingly built broke apart.

In the last couple of years, I joined a new venture and had to start from scratch once again. In the beginning my help on the IT side was more than appreciated and just a plain necessity. There was little time, very few resources, so working together was mandatory a for quite a while I was a marketer with a pair of IT gloves. As the company grew and organized itself things kind of fell back in place and this form of extreme collaboration was no longer a necessity.

Marketing started to focus on its key activities and started driving IT developments in a more structured way. This is actually good. Together with this approach came the decision to externalize IT Program and Project Management and software developments. This has demonstrated to be very bad.

How do you handle a situation like this?

Approach #1 – Blitzkrieg, quickly engage war

As soon IT delivers the outsourced code, you spend the night analyzing what they have produced and the morning after you deliver an analysis of how crappy is the work consulting delivered and slam it in the IT managers face.

Even if it’s all true you will activate IT defenses in max alert, ruin your health, and also find yourself in having to explain technical perks to your top management. In the end you will at most earn yourself a gastritis with no progress at all.

Approach #2 – Sit on the side of the river and wait for the bodies of your IT to float by

Knowing that your IT has delivered crappy code you wait for the day when it will be clear to all (including your customers!!) of how bad your service is.

I have seen have seen this too often. Marketing knows but waits until the problem emerges knowing “it will be an IT responsibility”, in the end we all lose.

Approach #3 – Leverage Marketing Analytics

Even when you know exactly what is wrong in the developments released by IT, you approach the problem in terms of Marketing KPIs. This approach requires that you monitor a good deal of performance indicators and requires a significant effort. It empowers Marketing to approach IT on terms which are clear to top management and the entire company.

You must enrich the classic array of Marketing Performance Indicators with more technical ones like these that pertain to web e-commerce:

The trick is to setup a small system that keeps historical track of these and other KPIs so you can approach IT with concrete Marketing Issues like:

“your last release has increased product page size by 20%, the page now takes 2 more seconds to load and this has reduced conversions by 20%.
We are losing XXXX€/day.”

You can expect everyone to be quite reactive with this approach and you will quickly obtain backing by top management.

I still miss the days when Marketing and IT could work together sharing responsibilities, goals and results but sometimes it’s not possible.

We live in an imperfect world with imperfect companies the key is finding ways to deliver progress nonetheless.

2 thoughts on “How to move on when dealing with a bad IT”

  1. I have worked with you for years, your “expertise” in development and IT is very basic and monstly sourced by google searches. You state yourself as someone who can judge code, or judge infrastructures, you clearly are NOT. Honestly and not being a marketeer even your marketing skills were weak, this was clearly understandable by the documentation you provided for development tasks, always full of bottlenecks and ignored scenarios, css and code examples which were never even taken in consideration since not optimal and clearly written by an amateur.
    The real problem is that in most big companies, like in this case, developers have to deal with high ranks like you, amateurs in pro positions, who know half you do, get paid 3 times as much as you, and give you orders.
    Naming Google PageSpeed Insights is a clear example of your lack of knowledge, as well as choosing to build a large scale e-commerce site based on WordPress with a premium theme so that you can build the pages youself with a page builder and be able to “play with your toy”.
    Proposing plugins for any given solution while having the development of the portal outsourced to a supplier who could simply make everything custom.
    You were able to create css glitches and js errors even by simply interacting with the limited space you were allowed.
    Before blaming other people take a look in the mirror and think about the problem from a wider angle including yourself in the scene, maybe you wont write these posts wanting to sound like an expert anymore.
    Now go ahead and reply if you like, or simply remove the comment and disable further ones.

    Reply
    • I just received your comment that is fascinating relating to a parallel reality which is quite intriguing.

      So let me dissect your comment and reply.

      I have worked with you for years, your “expertise” in development and IT is very basic and monstly sourced by google searches.

      First of all, if you have worked with me you could identify yourself instead of remaining anonymous knowing that I have no problem in engaging in constructive conversations no matter how difficult they can be.
      I do use Google searches very much and often find very insightful content. I also participate in meetups and conferences and confront myself with loads of people more competent than myself.

      You state yourself as someone who can judge code, or judge infrastructures, you clearly are NOT.

      I do judge code and you know I have even written a small bit of crypto in proxymaya. I also judge infrastructures and hopefully you’ll agree that our’s is overkill.

      Honestly and not being a marketeer even your marketing skills were weak, this was clearly understandable by the documentation you provided for development tasks, always full of bottlenecks and ignored scenarios, css and code examples which were never even taken in consideration since not optimal and clearly written by an amateur.

      This is fascinating, because I would have appreciated your feedback and instead you kept it for yourself.

      The real problem is that in most big companies, like in this case, developers have to deal with high ranks like you, amateurs in pro positions, who know half you do, get paid 3 times as much as you, and give you orders.

      Wow! I didn’t even know I gave orders!

      Naming Google PageSpeed Insights is a clear example of your lack of knowledge, as well as choosing to build a large scale e-commerce site based on WordPress with a premium theme so that you can build the pages youself with a page builder and be able to “play with your toy”.

      You should document yourself better, since Google Page Speed’s LCP, FID and CLS indexes have become prime ranking factors for ranking and thus an important factor in our website’s traffic.
      If you could look at the global picture you would understand that using a CMS like WordPress (which by the way is not my favorite solution) has been key in having something manageable quickly. I know you would love a headless CMS but considering that little or nothing has even been upgraded in the last four years it is better than nothing.

      Proposing plugins for any given solution while having the development of the portal outsourced to a supplier who could simply make everything custom.

      Have you seen how much we pay the outsourcer? A plugin costs nothing compared to that cost, it’s available now and does the job.

      You were able to create css glitches and js errors even by simply interacting with the limited space you were allowed.

      Probable. When you do things you can make mistakes and also fix them.

      Before blaming other people take a look in the mirror and think about the problem from a wider angle including yourself in the scene, maybe you wont write these posts wanting to sound like an expert anymore.

      I don’t blame individuals, I blame an organization and the worst IT organization I ever interacted with. An IT that could have improved but got worse, an IT that externalized work instead of employing, an IT who ignored availability and security aspects and is now running to fix known problems, an IT that doesn’t even know if its services are running or not. But an IT with very competent individuals, very badly managed.

      Now go ahead and reply if you like, or simply remove the comment and disable further ones.

      Here I am, and I never hide my face.

      Best of luck!

      Reply

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