The IT-Project Brain Trust

As the great IT spending slowdown enters its third quarter, enterprises are changing their approval process for large-scale IT projects. The changes result, in part, from senior management's perceived need to cut costs in the face of slower growth.

But other factors are at work as well. In many cases, the most ambitious IT projects, such as data warehousing/Business Intelligence (BI) implementations and a range of e-business solutions, require support from a broad spectrum of managers across the enterprise. Are IT management teams pursuing that buy-in aggressively enough?

To better understand who has decision-making authority for major IT projects, asked how much influence different departments exert on decisions to implement data warehousing/BI solutions. An exclusive analysis of the data reveals that IT departments enjoy the most influence on the direction of data warehousing/BI projects, but corporate managers also wield substantial control. Line-of-business managers get the least amount of say in data warehousing/BI decisions.

Graph 1, Graph 2, and Graph 3 show the varying degrees of influence that different departments have on data warehousing/BI solutions.

A closer look at the numbers underscores certain trends. In a vast majority of cases, all three interested parties influence data warehousing/BI decisions to some degree. The IT group clearly is the straw that stirs the drink for data warehousing/BI decisions, exerting significant to primary influence on the decisions in more than 70 percent of the cases. In more than half the cases, the line-of-business managers exert little or no influence.

Interestingly, the anecdotal evidence is beginning to indicate that corporate groups exert more control over the timing and nature of enterprise-wide applications as budgets tighten. Many IT managers report that although they want to implement projects, they face difficulties in getting those projects funded unless they can demonstrate immediate, measurable Return on Investment (ROI).

IT managers might have to work harder to enlist the support of line-of-business managers for projects such as data warehousing/BI. If large-scale software projects are to succeed, users must embrace and anticipate the potential benefits. Moreover, the project team must understand the end users' needs. One reason for data warehousing/BI project failure might be the insufficient involvement of line-of-business managers in the decision-making process.

Indeed, for IT managers to adequately respond to corporate pressure for cutbacks, they must enlist line-of-business managers as their allies. The data indicate that what should be a routine coordination between IT staff and users isn't yet in place.

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