Introduction

I was sitting in my hotel room last night frustrated with the speed of my Internet connection, so I called the front desk to upgrade my bandwidth. Unfortunately my problem was over their head, so they gave me the number to their IT support, which I promptly called. After putting me on hold a half-dozen times, the IT specialist told me she couldn't upgrade my bandwidth because they don't support a router configuration in the hotel room (which is the only way I can watch my Google Chrome). I quickly hung up and took a few aspirin before the throbbing in my head escalated any further. Unfortunately, I see similar behavior with some of the business analysts I come in contact with. Good business analysts listen carefully to their users' needs and work within the constraints of the organization to deliver an appropriate solution. Great analysts works outside the constraints of the organization to deliver solutions that add significant value to their users.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction trumps all else as a business analyst. I've consistently rubbed the stalwarts of Corporate IT the wrong way, by insisting that user requirements lay the law. In almost all cases IT creates policy, rules, and regulations to benefit IT at the expense of the users. Instead of providing immediate and significant value to the users, they hold meetings about meetings to conduct reviews of the review process; only to eventually tell users that they can't have 80 percent of what they need because it's not sanctioned within the current IT architecture. The users finally concede and either settle with a 20 percent solution or build a shadow IT system on their own. Sound familiar?

Your job as a business analyst is to deliver the best possible solution to your users. If that means working around corporate IT, then that's what you need to do. I'm not suggesting that you blatantly violate IT policy; however, you shouldn't just dismiss a user's request because it doesn't fall in line with what IT prefers. Your job is to fight for your users and challenge IT if their policy doesn't support the business.

Several years ago when I was helping PayPal fortify and expand their European business, my German users were greatly in favor of adopting QlikView. They experimented with a small pilot and were getting quick and valuable insights with very little effort. When I presented this case to Corporate IT on their behalf, they quickly shot the idea down because it didn't fit within their architecture. I could have folded at that point, but that's not my style. I continued to support them as best I could with the skills, tools, and resources at my disposal; and I continued to fight with IT over why they couldn't support better integration with QlikView. My German users finally won that battle, and there are now several European business units taking advantage of this QlikView infrastructure and business model. Everyone is better for it, so I'm glad I didn't surrender at first pushback.

Summary

The days of Corporate IT holding the organization hostage by its rigorous policies and overdone governance are long gone. Supported by the mega-trend of consumerization, business users are now bringing their technology to IT--and IT has to make it work. Use this trend to your advantage to fight for your users. Use your IT skills and talent to keep Corporate IT honest and challenge IT policies that don't make business sense. After all, you are much better than a hotel Internet support representative.