General Managers Who Default to Specialists do so at their Own Risks


“I think we can use a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software program to track our marketing efforts,” the Marketing Vice President said.

The Information Technology (IT) manager disagreed, “I’ve examined several vendor programs and I’ve not found any that fit our unique needs.”

“Can we modify a commercial program and make it work for us?”

“We can but I don’t think we will be satisfied. With a minor investment, my department can design software that will work better.”

After further discussion, some of which became quite passionate, the Marketing VP defaulted to the IT Manager.

Many design evolutions later, and weeks behind schedule, IT proudly pronounced the program ready. Of course, implementation went sideways. Staff complained about missing data, poorly formatted reports, excessive options and more.

“I should have insisted on COTS software,” lamented the Marketing VP. “But how did I know? I’m not the software expert.”

When dealing with specialists, I think it is the manager’s responsibility to bone up on the subject matter.  Question vendors, seek coaching from other experts, explore YouTube videos—do what you must do to prepare yourself to ask intelligent questions and confidently evaluate options.

 

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