Monday, September 22, 2014

Cultural differences, rules and frameworks in IT

Having moved back to the Netherlands from Australia, it is fun to see again that the cultural differences are also reflected in how the profession is approached. Just as businesses are different and have different corporate cultures you see this also on the national level.

One of the first things you notice when you arrive in Australia, is that first of all driving in traffic is a bit more relaxed. You don't have all the bikes and almost everyone keeps to the speed limit. In the Netherlands it is all much more aggressive on the road. The rules on the road in the Netherlands are a bit more logical to me as it is in Australia. For example, I found it rather illogical that each time the left lane (the slow lane) disappears. This makes it that people are constantly merging while this would not be necessary. I had to laugh when they finished the M2 upgrade in Sydney, at some point they first showed a sign "keep left unless overtaking" and immediately following a sign "left lane ends". Sydney roads are just a mess. Of course no-one keeps left. Everyone drives in the middle lane.

In the recent years, ITIL has become very popular around the world and has become the defacto global standard for IT Service Management. Though it is a UK developed standard, it is not a surprise that the Dutch were the early adopters. The same thing applies to Prince2. Whereas PMBOK seems to be more popular in the US and Asia including Australia, is it all Prince2 over here.

Now that I am back, I am confronted with two additional frameworks created in the same spirit as ITIL: Application Services Library (ASL) and Business information Services Library (BiSL). If you have the experience, they are pretty straightforward. The question is of course whether you need to master these frameworks in order to do a good job. Not necessary according to me, but I have seen enough situations where they would definitely add value.

And do the Dutch manage their IT better then the Aussies? From what I hear not be definition. In the end most of it is common sense and if you have quality people who understand IT (and information) and how to manage this effectively, you would do the same thing.


The risk with too much process and procedures is that you become slow and bureaucratic. Not that these frameworks intend anything of this. It is a different way of running your business or your country. Being more lean can make you more agile, supports growth better and can increase profitability. However you have a higher risk that you do things wrong and inefficient. Having more rules and more focus on doing things right, can avoid that but has a risk that you increase the bureaucracy and that you slow your business down. Ideally you have only top professionals who know exactly what to do so you can cut out all the bureaucracy and be lean and agile. But unfortunately that is not always achievable.





 

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