Yesterday our recently elected CIO paid us a little visit for the first time. The entire IT team attended the hour long meeting where the CIO very eloquently explained his plan for the entire IT organization (which is actually made up of several smaller IT groups throughout the Board of Education). In the end he “opened up the floor” for questions and/or comments. For a grueling 10 seconds nobody uttered a word. Being that I was genuinely interested in what he had just said, I stepped up to the plate and fired my first of three questions. Basically I challenged the current state of our policies and standards governing the development of software within our group. I told him they were very obsolete and inadequate, often causing a lot of distress amongst the developers around here. Sometimes something as simple as adding a new feature to Crystal Reports (for instance, the functionality of exporting existing reports to PDF format) could take 2+ days coupled with several emails for request and approval. By the time said feature was installed I had already forgotten the original reason for installing it in the first place! He was very diplomatic on his response and acknowledged that some actions will be necessary in order to bring our organization up to speed with technological advances, but always keeping in mind our standards. My following questions were about the availability of any document generated by the newly created IT steering committee (with the sole purpose of investigating, proposing, and implementing the necessary changes to improve our organization) and if the organization had ever considered Open Source as an alternative to some of the outdated systems we have.
Apparently, I left a good impression in everyone present including some of the directors. Only 2 other directors asked questions besides me… Walking back to my cubicle I was greeted by several co-workers and directors, who congratulated me for “having the balls” to speak up in front of everyone… The truth was that I didn’t do it to provoke anyone or show that I “have balls.” I simply did it because I felt the need to investigate how much the CIO was willing to go in order to achieve his plan!
About 10-15 minutes later, as I’m being harassed by my ex-cubicle mate with sarcastic comments about my “performance” earlier, the VP walks in! He excused himself and asked if I had a few minutes to spare. We quickly got rid of my annoying (but inoffensive) friend and got to business. He asked me about my ideas on what could be done in order to improve our policies and seemed to be genuinely interested in my ideas. I tried to back up my points with real examples and that may have helped me “drive the home.” We had a very good conversation about our policies and a quick hint at the role that Open Source may have at our organization. I have been told by a good friend that he’s very fond of Linux et all. When we talked about the constant virus threat Internet Explorer users face and how it could be better controlled with FireFox, he told me that he is a FireFox user and has even gone to the point where he’s started talking to our Operations group about a possible implementation of said browser! In the end I asked him if we could meet at a different date so I could show him a little bit more of Linux (my laptop running Ubuntu) and some Open Source applications (OpenOffice, Evolution, Gimp, Imendio Blam, F-Spot, Monkey Bubble, etc). My appointment is scheduled for tomorrow at 4:00pm! :)