The role of the Conscientious Dissenter on an IT-Business case team

6 Feb

The personnel involved in writing a business case varies widely depending on the company or organization, along with project managers and the managers of key functions that might be affected by a project’s production, including marketing, manufacturing and finance. In a small business, some of these roles may be filled by one person; in a large business, the roles may be filled by a matrix of interlocking teams.(1)

While the business case may deal primarily with the financial justification for the IT project there is also need to include different perspectives to ensure IT goals are aligned with those of the company as a whole (which you can read about read here).  But what of the character s that make up this group?

Well according to Belbin’s teamwork you will need a specialist in the form of an IT manager or executive, the co-ordinator or leader who takes the initiative, assigns roles etc., resource investigator perhaps someone in finance or project accountant who judges the cost-benefit of a given project. Also there must be a “Shaper” or “Implementer” an individual who drive the case forward. In my experience it often the “Shaper” who forms the opinion of the group and thus places undue pressure on others to produce the “correct” result.

Therefore the role of the “Monitor Evaluator” is one of great importance; this is the conscientious dissenter, someone who will not be swayed by the opinion of the group, someone who is not afraid to ask the tough questions. This person acts as a perfect foil for the aggressive forward thinking of a “Shaper” or “Implementer” and can bring the group back to an objective thinking style.

ronnoc90 and lucid21 both mention in their work on IT Success how appropriate staff (be it IT or otherwise) can lead to IT project success. I would argue that this should be extended to include appropriate personalities in the situation of creating a fair and balanced IT-business case.

From personal experience working with a “conscientious dissenter” can be a pain, slowing the pace of completion, asking seemingly obvious questions. However the value of this person became much more apparent at the when we handed in a polished, detailed report. When it comes to forming business case teams managers must seek out and include these dissenters.

Sources

(1)    http://know.about.com/Business_Case

(2)    www.belbin.com/

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