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Friction continues between business and IT

A third of 437 business executives surveyed by Forrester Research said they were dissatisfied with the performance of their IT departments.

But some IT managers and analysts said they were unsurprised by the revalation, and insisted it may actually represent an improvement in IT's standing.

The survey found that dissatisfied business managers were more likely to fight with IT departments for control of technology initiatives, and think that their companies lag behind in adopting new technologies and face higher IT project failure rates.

Since the economy's rapid growth came to a halt in late 2000, IT managers have had to work more closely with business units to cost-justify technology investments.

Alignment between business units and IT is an age-old problem, said John Parkinson, chief technologist at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young's Americas division in Chicago.

"Why would anybody be surprised by the [survey] results?" Parkinson asked. "This has been a problem for the 25 years I've been in the profession."

One of the challenges is that applications built to support business operations are often rigid and can be "antithetical to agile behaviour," Parkinson said. "Businesses like to be able to change directions on a dime."

Parkinson said IT departments should have some of their workers "live" with business units to get a better understanding of their requirements. In return, IT managers have to be straightforward with business leaders "on what's reasonable to expect from IT projects and what's unreasonable to expect", he said.


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