“It’s IT’s fault.”
I was surprised to hear this from a front-line airline worker when I checked in at the gate. (I probably shouldn’t have been surprised after all my years in IT.) As I deplaned on the first leg of my flight, I realized I didn’t have a mobile boarding pass for the second leg. I usually print my boarding passes — just seems easier to keep track of and quickly access it than trying to find the specific email on my iPhone with the boarding pass link. But I had checked in for the flight from my hotel room late the previous night so opted for a mobile boarding pass.
The connection was going to be tight anyway, and then my first flight was 35 minutes late to depart — and I was sitting toward the back of the plane. I was connecting at O’Hare so I hustled from the H gates to the L gates fast as I could. When I got to the gate and said I didn’t have a boarding pass, the airline employee said, “It’s our IT department.” He told me how IT has some explanation about how the mobile boarding passes aren’t intended for connecting flights for security reasons. But I don’t recall any message during the online check-in saying I had to get my second boarding pass at the airport. Then he said it’s because they inherited the IT department from the other airline they had merged with.
As a healthcare customer, I’ve often heard registration clerks and other front-line workers blame “the system” for being slow or not working the way they’d expect it to. Another “it’s IT’s fault” explanation. But given I usually received my care at the provider organization where I was the CIO, what I heard was it’s my team’s fault.
After doing an IT review at a client where we talked with probably 60 leaders and staff, I saw how the “it’s IT’s fault” takes on many flavors. A sobering reminder of just how hard IT’s job really is, and how much IT needs to listen to their customers and partner with them.
We take technology for granted every day. We are dependent on it in all aspects of our lives. When it doesn’t work or doesn’t work the way we expect it to, we blame IT.
It is critical that IT teams work closely with their business partners, and together, solicit input and feedback from frontline workers. It’s also critical that frontline workers find a way to give their input and feedback. The design and build phase for new systems, as well as ongoing optimization and enhancements once a system or application is in use, present the perfect opportunity to incorporate this input.
Back to the airline story. I did try to be a self-sufficient customer and log in to the airline’s mobile app while I waited patiently but anxiously to deplane from the first flight. I figured I’d get another mobile boarding pass at the last minute. But instead I got a system error saying, “Try back later.” That told me possibly something bigger was going on with their system.
The next time technology doesn’t work for you and it’s a system for which you can give feedback, do it. It will only get better if the IT people behind the curtain know what’s needed.