Why can’t IT orgs do the right thing the first time?

My wife was on a rant a while ago.  Her IT department said it wasn’t possible for them to write a tool for determining when a notification letter had to be mailed to comply with Federal regulations.  Their mail processor has a given SLA.  If the SLA doesn’t allow for compliance, then they need to send the letter manually with someone doing runs to the post office.


Together, we worked out a solution.  She gave me the requirements.  I whipped up an app that took input for time the clock start time.  I ran calculations working backwards from the SLA then against the Federal requirements.  And there was the answer.  Manual or with the contracted mail processor.   I even used the companies hideous corporate colors.  

The next step was my wife showing the app to her VP.  He turned pale.  He was the one who negotiated the SLA.  She was ordered to not share the application with anyone until he could report up the chain.  

Once the dust settled, IT asked if they could have my code.  My wife responded with, “Only if you pay his consulting rate.”  Let’s just say they figured out how to do it without my code.  Too bad they didn’t have enough initiative to do the right thing up front, instead of after they had been called to task for ignoring the needs of the business.

I have been in multiple IT organizations.  I spent over 13 years doing consulting work at multiple levels for big corporations, public & private utilities, and non-profits.   It is a reoccurring theme that IT orgs are treated as cost centers and not partners in the business process.  The business units never want to pay for services that match their actual need.  I understand the arguments against waste and running lean.  But…  This leads to IT organizations de-incentivized from doing the right thing.  It becomes a viscous cycle.