This is an open question after a productive, but frustrating, conversation with a coworker. My coworker is a long-tenure, high-level IT employee who was telling me how her standards has slipped steadily during her time in IT. Basically, she said “it took me 3 years to stop wanting to deliver perfection and come around to the fact that my job was merely to deliver.” In her defense, since IT is usually a cost center, the way success of an IT initiative is evaluated is on-time first, under-budget next, and quality bringing up the rear. The situation is (I’m sure) different in eCommerce where IT supports your front-line revenue generation, but it may be that the inward-facing technology in those firms suffers the same fate.
So, if you’re in a situation where IT is being rewarded for cheap and fast, is there a place for good usability and design? Should it be outside IT? Would it get used if it were?
There’s certainly the (valid) argument that good up-front design and requirements definition saves time and money in the long-run. However, it has been my experience that if budgets are first-and-foremost, Usability is viewed as a qualitative enhancement which, as I mentioned, finishes a distant third.
So, my question is: Should Usability be a function of a department where quality is more important? Marketing seems like a decent candidate. Even better, it should be a separate department (paired with design) that is consumed by other departments.
Let me know what you think.