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Hero syndrome: Why internal IT and outsourcing cultures clash

Stephanie Overby | Feb. 24, 2011
The "stay up all night, do anything for the user" hero culture of corporate IT may win friends in the business, say outsourcing consultants at TPI and Compass, but it won't yield real business-IT alignment. And it makes it almost impossible to succeed at outsourcing. What can IT service providers do to remedy this on their end?

Dreger: It has to be a collaborative effort on the part of both parties, and it has to include executive-level support. What we've often seen is that, after a transition, there's some maturation and some implementation of process discipline. But then it stalls. At that point you need to come in and do a baseline, see where you're at, and get both parties to reassess and re-commit to the need for process discipline. Being able to quantify the benefit of that change is essential.

It's also important to create incentives and rewards—both individual and group-based—to give the heroes a stake in the implementation of process discipline. They can feel threatened by an initiative to instill consistency and repeatability, because it can make them less visible. Why is it so hard for corporate IT groups to embrace standardization? Is that changing?

Mathers: Standardization can be seen by clients as constraining unless the benefits are clearly laid out. They need not only to understand how they will need to work differently, but what the benefits of that change are.

We're seeing clients take the time up front to map out what a standardized service model can look like, including leveraging utility-based services, demand management and appropriate tensioned pricing mechanisms to quantify the size of the prize. The benefits can be significant; some have reduced costs 30 or 40 percent. The level of savings the organization should target depends on their appetite to make some of the changes. For some more conservative organizations, savings may be 15 to 20 percent. The largest savings will be reserved for those that are truly willing and able to transform how they deliver services to users, and how users consume those services.


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