How to End an IT Turf War

Sports Authority’s CIO put a stop to finger-pointing and backbiting 

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There was nothing sportsmanlike about the behavior of Sports Authority’s IT team when Rob Meilen joined the Denver-based retailer in 2004. Rather than function as a cohesive department, rampant “finger-pointing and backbiting got in the way of any constructive collaboration among teams,” says Meilen, the company’s former CIO. (He left Sports Authority in early May for a position at another company.) As a result, programmers were tweaking code in mid-production, computer operators were catching the blame for system failures, and systems administrators were barely able to keep tabs on quality assurance.

Welcome to your average IT shop, where competing goals, opposing priorities and language barriers can cause strife even among seasoned administrators, developers and IT bigwigs. In fact, today’s dysfunctional techie families can easily threaten IT implementations, ­throttle ­productivity, increase attrition and damage employee morale.

“Different stakeholder groups inside companies have different goals and different measures of success, and that’s what ultimately drives most of these turf wars,” says Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret, a consultancy focused on the prevention of technology implementation failures.

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