Do IT departments have too much control?

15 pts.
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IT departments
I was just laid off due to finance problems from an university in Illinois. I worked in the IT department. What I noticed in my old department was the idea that they acted as if they had control over the university because they (IT) had control over the data and the computing infrastructure. I thought that was a unique philosophy, but as I look for work and talk to people, they seem to act and feel as though they are dependent on IT so such that they are at the whims of IT! Please let me know if this has been studied or researched. Also, would IT actually admit they do this or think this way?
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This situation will vary in different workplaces, no one answer will fit all. Having said that, I have been in both situations – where IT are a part of the company in general, and fill a suppport need…..and also where some sysadmins are given too much control and start thinking that they are the gods of the company.

I try to always remind co-workers that we are there to support the front line workers – who bring in the funds that pay IT salaries. I think IT should never have total control over the workflows, unless they are personally experienced in using those same workflows – or you are in danger of having a system that is NOT user friendly and does not promote the best practices for enabling your business.

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  • Kevin Beaver
    Sorry to hear about your situation. I see this issue quite often. In terms of managing information risks, it ends up creating a dependence on IT for all things security-related. Anyone who has worked in this field long enough knows that IT cannot handle it all for a myriad of reasons, some of which I've written about in these three pieces:

    https://community.rapid7.com/community/infosec/blog/2013/09/13/why-business-execs-know-more-about-security-than-you-do

    https://community.rapid7.com/community/infosec/blog/2013/07/15/if-you-can-t-explain-it-simply-you-don-t-understand-it-well-enough

    https://community.rapid7.com/community/infosec/blog/2013/11/13/network-complexity-is-dangerouslong-live-complexity

    The mystery behind IT fosters a false sense of security on the part of management that, in turn, leads to lack of support because, well, "IT is handling it all". Breaches then occur and everyone is throwing their arms up wondering how it happened.

    It's a vicious cycle that many people can't see because they're too caught up in their day-to-day work, their egos, and their agendas. As Ayn Rand said "The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see."

    Security is too complex a subject for it to remain solely under IT's umbrella...yet it usually does. Thus, the ugly cycle we've grown to expect in the headlines is perpetuated.
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  • bdbensley
    Thank you. I agree, but has anyone done surveys or research into this situation? What percentage of companies have this problem? I am finding just from my experience, and not any statistical research, that a large percentage are not "service" oriented, even if they say they are. Like my old job, they kept telling me and in meetings saying we need to be more customer needs oriented, yet at the same time, "We can't let them have that," "that gives them too much control," "don't put that in even if it is easy," and more comments like that.
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  • Kevin Beaver
    No studies that I'm aware of...I'd certainly be interested in it! Please reach out to me at @kevinbeaver on Twitter if you come across anything and I'll do the same here.

    I'm guessing 100% of organizations have this issue in some form or another. Weird, stuff, huh!? It's really no different than politics in any another aspect of society. Counterproductive nonetheless.
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