back to article Three things you need to break down those company silos

If you’re the guy tasked with breaking down silos, should you be breaking down the people who police those silos first? We explore how to de-mine your team ahead of your brownfield project. I've worked with a number of companies, as both an employee and a contractor, since I started working in IT in the late 1980s. And of …

  1. PVecchi

    Interesting logic about Open Source

    It would be great to understand how many people were in that department and for how long they spent "about a person-day per week" asking "How do I...".

    I bet that didn't happen when they moved from MS Office 97 to 2010/2013 and had to convert lots of documents as there are incompatible formats also within MS families of products.

    So instead of praising and supporting a department that understood Open Source can bring benefits to the organisation the recommendation has been to go back paying the equivalent of "about a person-day per week" worth of licenses/support/EA/etc..

    Don't know when that happened but considering that the UK Government has chosen ODF as the official file format and that LibreOffice can work with "legacy" formats, like those used by Microsoft, very well then today's best recommendation would be to promote its use across the whole company.

    1. Mayhem

      Re: Interesting logic about Open Source

      You missed the point - Open Source wasn't the problem. Using a different set of software tools to the rest of the organisation was.

      In that place and at that time, the company was using Office. Having one department out of many try and work against the tide was simply not a good investment for the company in time and effort.

      Now say they had been looking at shifting the company from Office 2003 to 2007, where there was an expectation of a substantial amount of retraining involved. Then it might have been worth spinning up a small test project team to trial the equivalent Open Source product available at that time to see if the logistic and training burden was higher or lower under Open Source. You may also have a one off conversion investment in altering historical documents to work properly under the new system.

      That's the time that money gets discussed, not in an ad-hoc way. The extra cost of licencing a single department is insignificant compared with the collected burden of administering a diverse ecosystem and the inefficient use of employee resources. It's the same reason executives have secretaries.

      1. PVecchi

        Re: Interesting logic about Open Source

        I totally got the point and I agree that having to deal with different tools in an organisation can be difficult and costly. Moreover if it happened a few years ago Open Office wasn't anyway, in my opinion, good enough to satisfy the requirements of most businesses without considerable investments.

        Nowadays I wouldn't hesitate to recommend LibreOffice in organisations of all sizes as Microsoft Office doesn't make sense for about 98% of the users.

        The interesting thing that I see happening is that some organisations listen to some consulting companies saying that they've got to go digital/cloud/etc so they start ripping off ties with legacy systems that relied on MS Exchange/Outlook(?) & MS Office libraries to go fully "digital".

        Naturally those are the same organisation that refuse to move to other Open Source solutions as it would be too costly to rip off Microsoft from their systems. The only positive side of this is that, once the board realises the CIO has been a total incompetent & Cloud is not the nice fluffy thing they've been lead to believe, the hard work would have been already done & Enterprise grade Open Source solutions can be implemented with no issues at all.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm contracting in a shared service IT dept, and working on a project to deliver an enterprise-wide business platform. The 'Not Invented Here' syndrome is peculiarly strong in one specific business unit, yet they struggle (genuinely, I think) to articulate what their requirement is - but of course, if we don't solve the unknown problem, they'll go off and do their own thing. Any tips?

    1. Mayhem

      Re: Timely

      Present a skinned version of the new platform to a few key users as a "new interface" to their existing setup, and their complaints about which bits aren't working will help narrow down their actual requirements.

      Then a few weeks later after you've migrated the settings, swap the skin to the company wide one and show everyone the new improved system that does everything they want.

    2. Hollerith 1

      Re: Timely

      My experience in a similar situation, for what it's worth: I embedded myself in their team for about 10 days (not 10 full days, but almost full days over two weeks) and sat at people's elbows and got them to talk out loud about what they were doing on a legacy system and why. I then understood the business needs. People can't tell, but they can always show.

      One interesting theing is that one smart PA had figured out some work-arounds that everyone adopted. They did work, but they took time. I was able to make a small tweak on the legacy system so they could go from A to D without steps B and C and they were so dazzled that they bowed to me as to a Divinity. No, not quite, but a small incremental benefit made them believe when I said 'what till you see the new system--it's brill.'

      1. Dan 10

        Re: Timely

        Thanks Hollerith and Mayhem - the business units have their own devs related to the integration aspect, so there's no fooling them in that respect, but I see the points you are getting at.

        1. Dogster

          Re: Timely

          So it looks like to me you have two issues then? Both will need dealing with desperately.

          1. Their own devs who will see you as a threat so will always convince the users they (as in the devs) know more than you (and will also react far faster than you can to new requirements anyway as they are not tied up with as much bureaucracy)

          2. Users who have yet to see why they should follow you as IT department trust is at an all time low.

          I have been a customer of IT and also worked in IT so can understand both sides. communication, dialogue and repetitive incremental delivery are the only ways to get round this and this takes time.

          If you keep talking to them and delivering they will trust you in about two years time. Unfortunately most IT people get bored and move on by then.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      If you want to advertise your company's wares (take note of your 4 rejected comments), you pay for an advert.

      One warning only. Next time it's an instant zap.

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