How to waste money in IT 101

Of course, I have my own, personal vision here in my part of the IT-world. I am in contact with a lot of companies, including some of the world’s major media companies, IT companies, retailers, Universities and governments and sometimes I am quite honestly, worried.

I do what I like, that’s my work. I, my company or the company I work for, faces a project and a problem, and I try to find a creative solution. The typical ‘thinking outside the box’. I think I am good at that. I hope so, because usually I am a mess and too chaotic for thinking inside the box. A box in a solid space, no room for creativity, so I like to be outside the box, and tell people inside of it how to do it.

But I really like what I do, and really enjoy working with my colleagues who I respect, and in return, I also gained their respect and although we are not all rocket-scientists here, I dare to say we can easily outperform most other IT companies out there.

Now, this is where my worry is. That outperforming is not because I think we are the best around. I never have the goal to be the very best, because it lets you lose focus that being better than 80% is excellent already, and being at the top means there is no one to learn from. And believe me, there are always a lot of new things to learn.

In my communications with other companies (and being the VP in the company I work for that are usually also the IT-managers and seniors, and occasionally board members and executives) I tend to be open, honest and strict, but also add a lot of humor to the conversations; I want people to know they can just act normal with me, because it is when business people let their guard down, they are honest in what they want and are looking for, instead of putting so much effort to look so important.

And then, suddenly, the floodgates open and usually in a first conversation I receive quite some insight in that company’s IT problems.

For my own company, also an IT company, I deal a lot with governments and educational corporations. And usually I notice that these people are a lot more strict in what they are saying, as if they know they are more ‘watched’. But eventually, their actions speak more than a thousand words.

I run some major projects from my own company, have some quite impressive clients that a lot of other larger IT consultancy firms would be jealous of, and quite recently I received the request of a major media company if I would like to be in the race to rebuild their complete worldwide website. I mean, I did not ask to be in their, they actually came to me.

My company is in my attic in my house. It is the whole of two computers and a photo studio. The attic is not even finished yet and I am working on it now for about two and a half years. Don’t worry, I run my servers off-site 😉

But what I am trying to get to, to move this story in one solid direction, is that my clients deliberately decided to work with this tiny little company, in an attic, existing of one devoted guy and a number of connected free-lancers over their major-ICT partners that they had before.

Again, I like what I do, and I hear that that usually is the reason why companies like to work with me, which I am delighted about of course. I take pride in my work and a client is important to me. I don’t want to become a large IT company. I have worked for them, and I loved my time there too, but I know that once there is no passion in work, quality drops.

Last year, I got a request to participate in a bid for a small project for the New Jersey government. The reason why is because this certain department wanted to work with another team than the current partnerswho controlled their websites for years and years. And so I have received a bit of insight in this project and the past of this department and her partners. And then it worries me to see, even in this small area of all elements involving the government, how much money is absolutely wasted. And this, honestly, is not the governments’ fault, but because of lack of passion and knowledge of a lot of IT-ers around. Are they to blame? I honestly do not know; you would suppose that the person or department managing a bid should have the knowledge. But then, they are outsourcing because they do not have this knowledge in-house.

I think it mostly has to do with the lack of knowledge and also a bit of greed on IT-consultancy firms. I know it happens usually that on a project requiring 20 IT-ers, there are 2-4 highly-qualified people carrying 80% of the project, and teaching the other 16-18 consultants – if they are capable or not. I have been there. I have worked for one of Europe’s major ICT-consultancy firms and the goal of being on a project is to be hired with as many fellow-consultants as possible, and not make the deadline. Because at one moment, the client could not get you out of the project, because usually there was too much work done already.

This is nice financially for a consultancy firm. But let’s be honest, there is a lot of money wasted, work-passion wasted and washed down the drain, creating more IT-drones. And if you have looked around in the world of basic education here in the US, but also in Europe and I guess everywhere… money can be spent much wiser since it involves our children’s future. But think about security, healthcare, safety. I can tell you that you do not want to know how the code is written for some of the major safety systems in the world.

So that is why I try, with my tiny little company, to just add my share to honest and good IT work. At least, the best I can. I hope you can join in there too.

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