More on solution confusion and the cost to the business (and therefore IT as well)

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Yesterday I wrote about the concept Solution Confusion which is the outcropping of the broader concept of IT Sprawl. Too many applications in your portfolio in the end results in two specific problems.

  • Helpdesk calls (how do I)?
  • New applications introduced to the environment

The first one is a hard dollar cost that IT has to bear by not managing the overall IT portfolio. The average helpdesk call (this data is roughly 3 years old) costs $40 according to an HDI (Helpdesk international) study. So if a user has to call 2 times a year there is a cost of $80 per user per year that IT Sprawl costs.

The other side of that equation is the reality that solution confusion causes people to go out and buy a solution they know rather than using the provided solution. Of course this becomes a circular argument (or Chicken and the Egg) as the problem results in the problem getting worse.

One does in fact cause the other. You can in many cases have the issue of Solution Confusion without IT Sprawl, but in the end that is rare. You can have IT Sprawl without solution confusion but that is also rare. The tight controls that eliminate solution confusion in the end will also remove IT Sprawl.

The reality of IT Sprawl is that it has become self perpetuating. You can’t stop it just because on a Monday afternoon you decide your IT org has had enough. You have to go build a portfolio and then train users on the applications in the portfolio. Otherwise you can fix the problem for today and end up with a same problem in a year.

Analysts say portfolio projects are huge. So are helpdesk costs when you consider in the end you are wasting a large number of calls every single day. Solution Confusion layers are additional costs to consider.

  • How do I do this (unfunded training)
  • What should I use (time spent seeking a solution that could have been productive work time)
  • Solution arrogance (this is THE ONLY WAY to do it – IT doesn’t know what they are talking about)

It becomes less and less of a cost when you consider the potential loss. IT Sprawl can be managed and eradicated by simply building a portfolio of organization capabilities and mapping the capabilities to an organizational training program.