Is Your IT Department Destined For Failure?
Executives and Information Technology personnel historically have a difficult time seeing eye to eye. Many executives see the IT department as a necessary evil – you need it to keep the business running, but it’s just expensive and doesn’t add value to the organization.
IT professionals frequently get a bad rap, which is unfair because in many cases they are destined for failure.
Here are a few examples:
The Department Isn’t Really Managed
Many business leaders tend to think that IT just does their thing, and traditional management processes (the same ones used for Sales or Operations) don’t really apply. In fact, many executives aren’t even confident what their IT department does with their time.
Peter Drucker is often quoted, “What gets measured gets managed.” The IT department (regardless of whether it is in-house or outsourced) should have a defined strategy with objectives that support the organization’s overall business plan. Those objectives should have key performance indicators (KPIs) and other measures of productivity associated with them so they can be held accountable for their progress.
Managing IT in this way keeps it aligned with the overall business strategy, helping to drive the business goals.
All companies need some form of IT management, whether they have 15 or 500 employees. Business leaders often hire one or two IT people to take care of it. What they may not realize is that there are many different disciplines within the IT profession, and each area requires a different skillset. You can think of these disciplines like the specialties of doctors. If you broke your hip you need an orthopedic surgeon, not a heart surgeon. The same is true for IT.
The people who are really good at customer service naturally lean toward a Help Desk style role. If you have one of these folks as your IT manager, that same style person might not be the best at hunkering down and getting into the nitty-gritty details of cyber security to make sure that your company’s network is as secure as possible.
Not to mention, there probably isn’t time to handle all of the end user support requests AND everything else that needs to be done.
So you can imagine how having one or two people handling IT will always result in critical areas of the IT support spectrum left unattended, leaving executives frustrated that “nothing gets done.” It takes a village, which is why many executives choose to outsource some or all of the IT function to a larger team.
Not Taking Recommendations
IT professionals and executives tend to have a communication barrier.
The former is a group of highly technical people that communicate ideas in a technical nature. The latter are well versed in the areas of business impact in terms of dollars. This means that if IT wants to make infrastructure improvements, they tend to present budgetary decision makers with technical reasons the investment should be made, without effectively communicating the impact of inaction.
Executives simply look at the list of technical features, then the cost, and ask if it’s really necessary.
When IT answers this dreaded question with “Well…we can get by without it, but it’d be better if we had it,” more times than not the proposal is rejected. This is because the request was articulated as a want rather than a need.
This initiates a caustic chain of events: IT professionals tend to be really good at “making things work” without the appropriate resources, so they do just that. This may work for a while, but when the duct tape solution springs a leak (like you get hacked,) the IT department is accused of not their job. The real problem is that the misaligned communication resulted in the company choosing not to invest in the correct solution.
The next time your IT professionals come to you with a recommendation, ask them for reasonable options, with pros and cons for each, so you can make the most informed decision for your company.
Not Sharing the Vision
When IT is doing their job correctly, they should be keeping everything running while looking to the future to make sure that the company can scale appropriately without technology getting in the way.
Often times business leaders don’t include IT in discussions about business strategy, making it nearly impossible to synchronize with technology strategy. Without that insight, you may find yourself disappointed when you finally let them in on the aforementioned plans and they tell you that your infrastructure isn’t ready to support them. If they were involved earlier, they can plan accordingly and keep that in mind with every solution they implement.
It Doesn't Have to Be This Way!
Business leaders and IT don’t have to be at odds. Talk to a trusted IT consultant to figure out the right management, resources, and processes for your organization so you can start getting better results from IT, and ultimately have a more successful business.
As seen in the May 8th issue of The Press-Enterprise
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.