Your shout: Communication, board-level errors, CSA, viruses

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Computer Weekly readers' give their views

Communication about IT is good for business

In reply to Chris Bee's letter on IT and the boardroom (Computer Weekly, 11 July), I would ask him to define IT. If by IT he means the support and implementation of the solely technical infrastructure to support a business, he may have a case, but a weak one.

But if we extend the function of IT to include the automation and management of the business processes as well as the supporting technology, Bee has no case at all.

Business processes by definition affect the whole business, and as such there must be communication at the highest level to ensure there is total buy-in to these processes by the company as a whole. Business processes defined at this level are there to support and improve the efficiency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness of the business.

From this communication, we can then define and structure the implementation projects that should naturally follow. That is the hardware, software and, most importantly, the people.

This then gets fed down through the company to ensure that everyone understands the importance of these projects to the business as a whole, fully endorsed by the senior management.

Unfortunately, this appears to seldom be the case, and the IT manager has a constant uphill struggle attempting to implement ill conceived commands from on high, with no understanding or commitment from the organisation that sits below.

Like Bee, I have spent 33 years in the IT industry. Years ago we were a peculiar lot running primitive accounting systems on primitive computers that produced the books. In 2006, we are an integral part of any company and should be fully integrated into the business, rather than continue to be seen as "that peculiar lot that do the books".

Few boardrooms understand IT, and often IT does not fully appreciate the business.

Here's an idea: throw away any preconceived ideas and prejudices and get together and talk. If you don't, it is the company's loss.

Geoff Savage

 

Boards that ignore IT risk ruining their companies

It is a startling fact that, of total business expenditure, IT can be second behind only that of people, yet it still has little, if any, influence at board level (Computer Weekly, 4 July). It is astonishing that, in 2006, IT is still undervalued by most businesses, even where it adds directly to the bottom line.

The truth is that we are all dependent on IT, whether we like to think so or not, and IT is an ever more important business driver, not just a support function. But countless firms are running the risk of financial ruin because of a board of directors who, as a collective, fundamentally misunderstand technology issues and have no hope of matching IT potential with actual business needs.

Technology now permeates every part of the business world, so isn't it time that IT managers and directors were allowed to take their seat on the board, ex officio or otherwise? And to take the argument one step further, should not more CIOs make the transition to chief executive?

If a good CIO has fulfilled their role properly, they will have a depth of knowledge and expertise that encompasses the entire business and will far exceed that of any other senior manager. And, as such, any CIO worth their salt should surely be a shoo-in for the top job.

Richard Barker, Sovereign Business Integration

 

CSA highlights danger of inadequate testing

In response to Tony Collins' article "CSA's systems were given green light despite 52 critical defects" (Computer Weekly, 4 July). It is a continual source of amazement that so many organisations pay so little heed to the testing and quality assurance of IT systems.

Despite the fact that tests had detected 52 critical defects in the Child Support Agency project, the "go live" phase of the project was given the green light. But what has the CSA and EDS, its supplier, sacrificed in the bid to push the project through when it had clearly failed quality assurance checks?

The loss in productivity and the damage that the resulting negative coverage has had on the CSA has been highly detrimental and there is little doubt that its reputation has been tarnished.

Ian Londesbrough, IS Integration

 

Beware the power of a virus writer's words

I was nonplussed to read that the virus writers are now clever enough to send "an infected word" and that this "word" has the ability to "install another Trojan when opened" (Computer Weekly, 4 July). How can I avoid opening such words, and what exactly does a closed word look like?

Murray Grainger, Head of information systems, Elizabeth Finn Homes

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