Common Sense Management Will Help Avoid Many Software Glitches
Insurance Experts' Forum, November 3, 2010
My INN blogging colleague Ara Trembly is always providing good food for thought, and this week is no exception. Ara warns that our reliance on computer systems has grown to a point where even a small glitch could have a major consequence.
A similar warning was also recently sounded by Jeff Papows, in his new book, Glitch: The Hidden Impact of Faulty Software. I had the opportunity to contribute to and review Jeff's book during its development, and I saw he had accumulated a file of thousands of cases of glitches gone awry, resulting in consequences from massive overcharges on simple convenience store bills to tragic flaws in the software running radiology systems. And, he observes, there are plenty of national security experts are nervous about what a crafty cyberterrorist could do to the national power grid.
In his post, Ara advocates greater vigilance in managing the quality of our software output. Jeff, who served as president of IBM Lotus Software, and is currently CEO of WebLayers, takes this a step further in his book, proposing the creation of a "Global IT Governance Council" to promote a universal set of principles that raise awareness, and build this awareness into the jobs of software developers and systems designers, as well as bake it into processes. Only this way can we stem, or at least mitigate, the risks of mass computerization.
I realize this sounds akin to attempting to fight the tides, but at least it can provide some sheltered harbors in which there is accountability for the way our systems behave. In fact, Jeff's suggestions for addressing these issues also will improve the overall value of IT to the business. Positive actions include creating a cross-functional, company-wide IT governance councils within organizations to oversee appropriate enforcement and aligning of technology with customer priorities as well as establishing benchmarks and evaluating progress according to agreed-upon metrics.
In other words, common sense measures that should guide every IT operation, that ultimately pay back far more than they cost.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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