IT directors need to stand up to the board and educate them about the complexity of IT and outsourcing, the former IT director of the Inland Revenue has urged.
Speaking at a discussion last week on IT governance, John Yard said that board directors often had a limited understanding of IT and tended to blame IT unfairly for inevitable problems with technology.
"One of the tasks of the CIO is to educate the business about the real world and for large scale organisations the provision of IT is difficult and complex," said Yard, at a conference organised by Organisation and Technology Research.
"When something goes wrong in western [business] culture the first reaction is to find someone to blame and isn’t it easy to blame IT."
Yard, who at the Revenue managed a £3bn 10-year outsourcing agreement with EDS - and it's transfer last year to a consortium led by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young - added that organisations needed to pay more attention to the skills needed to manage a supplier.
He advised user organisations to form a small team to manage the relationship with the outsourcing supplier.
"These people need analytical skills [to see problems from the perspective of both the user and supplier] and a bit of courage to talk to different parties about what the solutions might be."
He added that an organisation’s IT spending and strategy should be run centrally to maintain control and maximise efficiency.
"I’m a Stalinist in terms of IT spending and IT strategy," he said.