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Extracts from My Articles on IT


These are only extracts from my various articles on IT:  

 

Extracts from Article "Bringing in Computers"

Extracts from Article “Indian Computing: Issues at Stake".
Extracts from
Article “Key Success Factors".

Extracts from Article: From Industrial Era to Information Age

Extracts from Article "Computerisation : A Field Job"

 

 

 

Extracts from Article – Bringing in Computers

 

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COMPUTERISATION can take the path of routine work reduction if it is not given a direction and meaning by the business expert. Unless the Information Technology (IT) head is a good business analyst himself, his computerisation effort would be a shot in the dark without the torchlight of the business expert.....

 

The business head can contribute very positively to the effectiveness of computerisation if he has done what could be called a "Bottleneck Analysis' for his business - an analysis of where the shoe pinches the most.

 

The business head needs to make himself aware of the market forces, the critical success factors for his business, and the controllable and non-controllable parameters which affect the performance of his company. He should know which parameters when controlled or improved would yield the maximum results with minimum efforts.

 

The business head also needs to educate his IT head. This will help the IT head in taking some very fundamental decisions which every IT head needs to make.

 

Being in the IT profession, I have often asked several business heads what are the bottlenecks and the critical success factors for their business. Surprisingly, not all had given a serious thought to the matter.

 

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Once the IT person knows what is critical for his company's business, he knows what information to generate on the computer. He is in a better position to take decisions on the allocation and utilisation of his hardware resources.

 

With the knowledge of the business, the emphasis shifts from mere manual work reduction and speed of operation to complete and efficient service to the farmer. Just as a small change in strategy can win battles, this small shift in emphasis can make a world of difference to the IT person in designing the system and to the company in deriving the fruits of computerisation.

 

It becomes the primary responsibility of the Chief Executive to educate his IT head about his business needs if he is to reap the benefits of computerisation. Otherwise the computer may well end up as a super efficient clerk.

 

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Extracts from “Indian Computing: Issues at Stake

 

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Computerization is a continuous evolution process within a company. The software matures in time through constant feedback and improvement.  ....

 

Just as auto­matic machines had heralded the industrial revolution and an industrial culture, computers promise to bring in an information revolution and a new information era. Technology changes very fast, but not the habits and behav­iour of the people. Several generations of technology may be produced in one human generation, but the basic mental make-up of man changes very slowly from one generation to another. While the centuries-old industrial culture has not seeped into our mind and behav­iour as yet, how can we expect the information culture to have any bear­ing on us?  

 

 

Introducing computers requires bringing about a cultural change -a change in the way people think, work and behave. It is, therefore, not the same as introducing any other machine 

 

Computerization is more a socio-psychological problem than a techno-economical one. It needs a proper pol­icy, strategy, planning and imple­mentation. The IS professionals are involved in changing the habits and ways of thinking of the people, habits devel­oped over several centuries.

 

It is easy to design and develop systems in the safe environment of a beautiful computer centre but it is difficult to make it run in the tense atmosphere of vested interests, personal prefer­ences and a rigid mental-emotional make-up of the people affected by computerization. 

 

 

Rarely does any software work per­fectly at the very first attempt. Either the user has not specified his require­ments comprehensively or the systems specialist has not understood him. Some fine-tuning is normally required before the software meets the exact require­ments of the user

 

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Extracts of Article Key Success Factors           

 

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A good manager would look at the strengths of people, and get the right jobs done by the right people within the team so that the team as a whole is strong, so that the team delivers.

 

I think the most significant factor which could have contributed to successful and timely delivery of projects is an understanding that each human being has some strength and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. I am not perfect too.

 

In a team, it is important that one member’s weakness is covered by someone else’s individual strengths in such a way that each one contributes through his strengths and the team as an entity is solid. A good team is one where everyone puts in his or her strength and covers others’ weaknesses - without any ego problems and without belittling others.

 

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A person normally does a good job when working on the job which he loves to do. Success is a big motivator and the motivation of a job well done gives him the energy to do the other jobs which he does not like to do, and thus helps him to overcome his shortcomings too in the course of time. A motivated person can certainly work over his weaknesses better than a person, who cannot even use his strengths, can. I believe that it is the manager’s job to see that the individual’s strength is used and he feels motivated. Nagging a person for his weaknesses makes him very conscious of himself and he cannot even use his strength.

 

 

I believe that most IT personnel will normally try to give their best. They do not need to be driven. They are self-motivated. A sure way to de-motivate them is to doubt their commitment.

 

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Extracts of Article "..Turmoil of the Information Revolution"

 

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As in case of the industrial revolution, we are all going through the pain and turmoil of the information revolution right now. Most of us may not be even aware of it

   

Man is still not at ease with this technology. He is perplexed, foxed, fidgety and sometimes angry when dealing with computers

 

It is a problem of the evolution of human psychology from the era of industrial revolution to the information age 

 The first problem has to do with his mental make up which has been shaped and groomed in the machine age and is unable to adjust itself in an age of computers.   

....just as the industrial era required a new thinking, new approach and a new culture, the 'Information era' too requires adopting new methods and new ideas to tackle the onslaught of computers 

 

We have been looking at the computer as the machine. The real machine of the information age is not the computer but the software running inside. The computer is only the fuel running it 

 

The computer is far inferior when compared to a machine of the machine age. Whereas the machine is clearly superior to man with respect to the physical functions that it automates, the computer falls far short of man and his brain in the mental functions which it attempts to simulate 

 

There is a very subtle difference in the way we should look at computers. When we realize this distinction, there will be a marked difference in our comprehension of computers

 

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Having gone through the turmoil of the industrial revolution, we should be wiser to deal with the turmoil of this new revolution

 

First, let us acknowledge that we are all going through the inevitable. It is not just you and I, but the whole humanity is going through the troubled times. Doesn’t that make you feel better?  

 

We did not benefit from the Industrial machines for free, we did give something so that we could reap the benefits. Are we giving what we are required to give to benefit from the information revolution?

Are there any rules of the game to use this technology? Are we playing by the rules of the game?  

 

If we were to draw an analogy of our approach to computers with that to the aircraft, we expect an aircraft to come to our house to pick us up and take us to our office a few kilometers away

 

Look at the pains we have taken to use technology of the industrial age. We built roads to use cars, airstrip and airports for aircrafts, long rail lines for railways, etc. We built tall transmission towers and insulated wiring to use electricity. Electricity can be very useful, but at the same time it can also kill 

 

For computers, too, there are certain rules of the game. For computers we need to change the way we work, change some of our procedures, some of our habits, etc.  

 

A major part of the stress and strain for a manager today arises out of the change happening in his surroundings. He finds himself particularly helpless in the change brought about by IT, since he understands very little of it.  

 

Man needs to understand computers more clearly without the maze of confused and outdated concepts that plague his mind

 

The problem of acceptance of computers is evolutionary. Man will evolve out of it. The faster he corrects his outlook, faster can be the evolution

 

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Extracts of Article – Computerisation : A Field Job

 

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Since the staff was to be introduced to computerization for the first time, it was made clear to them that the computer was not a magic box and that it cannot perform miracles as is common belief, they were warned that the work load will actually increase during the parallel runs which well might result in an initial dislike of and frustration with the computerized system

 

Although some of the activities in this series of preparations seem trivial, their avoidance or violation can cause havoc with snowballing effect

 

A separate cell called 'data input and output cell' was made in the cane office for checking computer data, checklists and reports. This cell was headed by the chief coordinator. A competition developed between this cell and the cell maintaining manual records. This cell used to take pride in pointing out errors in the manual records. A sense of responsibility developed in the coordinator and the cell, which took on itself, the onus of the success of computerization.

 

The degree of independence and responsibility given to the coordinators worked as an incentive for them, feels Kamble. The involvement of the managers was restricted only to the extent of the strategic decision making aspects of implementation.

 

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The procedure adopted proved very effective in educating the user department. The coordinator in the user department (who was most aware of the detailed procedures and whose interaction with the computer department was maximum) easily developed a high degree of computer awareness. The coordinator in the computer department was equally aware of the intricacies of the manual procedures. “The two coordinators were instrumental in sorting our most of the problems which would have otherwise been pushed higher up,” feels Kamble.

 

Kamble decided to approach the general manager with this problem. The general manager ordered a meeting and took stock of the position. He heard the problems of both the departments and set targets for clearing the data backlog which had developed. The details of how the targets were to be met were left to the two departments to be worked out. Not much time was spent on ascertaining the reasons for the delay or ascertaining which department was at fault. “The meeting between me and the General Manager proved very effective as the result was miraculous,” laughs Kamble, “The targets were achieved and all back-log was cleared.”

 

“An analysis of the case reflects certain key factors which were responsible for the smooth and successful computerization,” says Kamble who feels that one of the major reasons was that the general manager, the cane department and the computer department adopted a positive, problem solving approach. “The cane manager’s courage to take risks and his urge to do something off-the-beaten-track was a positive factor in the smooth implementation,” says Kamble adding wryly that, “Systems managers face an uphill task if the head of the user department has a “how-can-I-do-it” or “it-will-not-work-in-our-case” attitude.

 

Kamble and the cane manager were given sufficient freedom. With the independence given to the coordinators, they worked with initiative and drive. Throughout the study and implementation, there was a close coordination between the computer and the user departments. Both departments were open to discussions and were willing to compromise if required.

 

Also, regular interaction between the coordinators enabled them to sort out routine problems and left the managers free to concentrate on the critical problems. “one of the factors that emerged was that the computer department needs to get a lot of work done by the user staff but cannot exercise any direct authority,” concludes Kamble. To get the work done, Kamble had to adopt a method of persuasion with the coordinator, the deputy cane manager and finally the cane manager. He approached the general manager only when all his efforts with the user department failed. The systems department thus made the user department aware of the trust reposed on it.

 

 

Emphasis was also put on the discontinuation of manual records at the earliest possible time. “A delay in discontinuing the manual records puts sustained pressure on the user department because of duplication of work,” feels Kamble, “As a consequence input data and checklists are not checked properly resulting in errors in the computer outputs.” These errors lead to more dependence on the manual records and more errors in computer outputs, which can finally lead to an outright rejection of the computerized system. It was found that the accuracy of the computerized outputs improved dramatically when the manual records were discontinued.

 

when here is full backing and little interference from the top management the probability of success is automatically that much higher.

 

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