Monday, 25 October 2010

Bob the hero?

Bob (Google Apps Script wizard) the hero?

Is Bob the hero of the company or has his boss and IT governance allowed him to become the biggest risk.
Google Apps scripts were showcased in a strong presentation at Google I/O 2010. In it, "Bob" was portrayed as a hero for great business performance improvement using spreadsheets and scripts. Although the scripting features presented form a sound toolkit for development around the Google Apps, I am concerned that they may simply replicate earlier problems in IT development.
I have reviewed government and commercial organisations and found much of their operations were centred on spreadsheets or MS Access databases and the like that had grown up from a long departed staffer's need to produce a one-off report for the manager. Auditability and indeed what a spreadsheet was intended to calculate had been lost in the mists of time. Do it yourself Business Process Automation as presented by the Google Apps team seems to offer the same opportunity for foul up but with the potential for more far reaching effects.
The example from Motorola in the second part of the presentation was impressive for its achievement of savings and business process improvement but rather had the hallmarks of an IT shop rather than a "Bob". Even with an IT project approach, there needs to be some consideration to the governance issues presented by such adhoc Business Process Automation. This concern was echoed in a question at the end of the video but not answered.
How do we avoid losing sight of key corporate information spread over contact lists, third party solutions and spreadsheets in the cloud?
Alternatively how do we empower the "Bobs" without hampering them with portfolio management, programme directors, project managers, advisory boards and other manifestation of "good" governance?

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