3 Sure Signs Your IT Team Is Stuck in the 1990s

Posted by on February 01, 2017

3 Sure Signs Your IT Team Is Stuck in the 1990s

When I look back at my history in IT and technology in general, I revisit fond memories. When I was very young, my father used to take me to work with him and let me mash the keyboards on VT-100 terminals, mess with punch card machines, and sit and watch the line printer as large as a VW Bug and as loud as a jackhammer shoot out stacks of code print-outs the size of bed sheets.

Tweet this: Old habits die hard. Here are 3 signs your IT team might be stuck in the past.

As a young programmer, I remember fondly wrestling with IRQs and learning cutting edge techniques by reading the latest O’Reilly books. Nostalgia is great because you focus on what was fun and good, while tossing out all the frustrations and bad stuff. Unfortunately—and especially in the technology field—running an IT department with the mantra of “This is the way we’ve always done it” is the kind of devastating nostalgia that can lead to spiraling out of control fast.

When it comes to enterprise software, many companies are stuck way back in the 1990s—or prior. This tends to be particularly true of IT software and HR/payroll software; many companies are running absolutely ancient applications that are rooted in the dark ages of information technology.

Your company might be one those companies if...

1. You’re WAY behind on upgrades to enterprise software.

In the past, organizations tended to upgrade software on a predetermined frequency: once per year, or sometimes even less often. That was because software companies tended to release upgrades on an infrequent, calendar-driven basis. (Think: Windows 95, Windows 98, etc.)

But in this age of agile development, most software applications are now updated at least four times per year, so just updating once per year will leave you far behind. Yet many companies are still stuck in the annual (or less often) upgrade rut.

That’s largely because of what we refer to as the Customization Trap.

Companies spend lots of money customizing their enterprise software. So when a new version of that software is released, installing it requires migrating the custom changes to the new version, a process that exacts significant time and money. For that reason, companies are stuck in the Customization Trap, simply ignoring new software releases—a dark-age, antiquated way of doing business.

Fortunately, new technologies are now available that can rescue you from the customization migration money pit. Deploy the right tool, and all those costly customizations can be easily and inexpensively rolled into each new upgrade. (More on that below.)

Tweet this: Has your company upgraded to enterprise software? If not, your IT team should re-evaluate their strategy.

2. You’re still hand-coding customizations for your enterprise applications.

In the early days of the IT, companies hired hordes of programmers to develop specialized enterprise applications. Then third-party software companies began developing those specialized software applications.

These vendors would, for example, develop accounting software that any company could purchase and use. That eliminated the need for companies to develop their own specialized software from scratch, saving them lots of money.

But most companies still felt a need to customize the software they purchased—after all, no two companies do things exactly the same way.

So programmers were hired, and lots of time and money were spent developing those much-needed customizations. And whether those programmers were hired in-house or as third-party contractors, most likely they were on the payroll to stay. When the programmers weren’t busy developing customizations, they were probably hard at work migrating those customizations when it came time to upgrade.

In the mid-90s, though, companies began to revolt. It was simply too expensive to maintain a stable of programmers for customizations and upgrades. Many companies decided that, instead, they’d just change their internal processes to avoid the need for customization. Rather than changing the software to fit their need, companies changed their processes to fit the software. In many organizations, this led to the current mindset that either customization is bad, or that it’s just intolerably expensive.

But that decades-old mindset is no longer valid.

Tools now exist that will allow you to make customization changes on the fly, without relying on expensive coding expertise. With the right tools, administrators can handle much of the customization chores that once would have once required programmers in a truly codeless environment or rapid application development structure.

3. You’re using your legacy ITSM tool just for logging tickets.

If you’re still using your IT service management tool just to log tickets for problems or incidents, then you’re stuck in the dark ages. You can correspond with your customers, and close tickets when their problems are resolved, but that’s all you can do—and that’s so very 1995!

Modern tools can help you escape from the ticket mentality. Instead of focusing on logging and closing tickets, your service management software should help you expand beyond the old-school service desk, breaking down the silos that often exist within IT—the service desk and operations management silos, for example.

True ITSM and ITIL processes are more than just logging incidents. Problem, change, knowledge, and release management—these are all areas that need to be implemented to pull you out of the past. Delaying implementation of these processes because they seem too hard or too complex is a sign your current ITSM software is creating a road block.

Not only will the right tool enable you to implement a wider variety of service desk processes, the right tool will help you move from an IT service management to enterprise service management mindset.

Tweet this: How a codeless ITSM architecture can bring your IT team into the future of enterprise software initiatives 

How Codeless Technology Can Help in All 3 Cases

The key to solving the three challenges above is finding technology that provides a truly “codeless” environment for making configurations and customizations. And let me be clear. When I say codeless I do not mean a WYSIWYG editor or a step-through wizard that generates code on the back end for you. I mean a truly codeless solution that has an abstraction layer between the code base and customizations you configure.

Many vendors claim that their software can be customized without the need for programmers. But look closely, and you’ll find that these tools incorporate visual designers through which you can make very simplistic customizations—you make a change, and the visual designer generates the code. But that’s just delaying the need for a programmer, not eliminating the need. Because if you want to perform customizations more complex than these tools support—and you almost certainly will—you’ll find that you still have a need to hire programmers.

When evaluating tools, be sure to speak directly to customer references, and ask the following types of questions:

  • Roughly what percent of your critical processes required customization?
  • What resources were required to create those customizations?
  • Can you configure your tool to perform functions outside of IT?
  • When was the last time you upgraded your solution?
  • How long did it take you to upgrade?
  • Did your customizations remain intact through the upgrade?

Often, the responses will indicate that you’ll still have a need for programmers, and the three challenges noted above will continue to plague your IT team.

The '90s Are Calling…

If you see yourself in any of the above, the 1990s are calling, and they want their software back. Consider it a wake-up call: an invitation to join the current century.

So many organizations are stuck in the past because they simply don’t know that there’s a better way to do things. Identifying where your tools are keeping you in the dark ages requires a mindset shift: instead of settling for bad, always be looking for better.

It’s a great way to avoid getting stuck in the last century.

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