Is your approach to IT strategic or is it tactical? Are you feeling like IT is more of a barrier than an enabler? Is your IT guy wasting time trying to get things to work, instead of actually getting down to business?
The problem could be a disconnect between the strategic needs of the business and your IT guy – even if, as is the case in many small to medium organisations, you are the IT guy.
If you haven’t done so already, consider these three steps which can get you thinking about IT in a better, more strategic way:
1. Change the dialogue
IT services shouldn’t be about running around putting out fires and trying to get things to work. Instead, your IT services should be available and perform reliably whenever required. There’s even more to it than that: any new business initiatives and objectives should be ably supported by the IT services, rather than impeded by them. Your IT should be part of the business journey, rather than just running in the background.
Start by assessing your business goals and initiatives for the short and long term. Just like any other member of your staff, your IT guy has to know not only what the business is all about, but also how it depends on technology now and into the future.
Without this discussion, your IT person is looking at the wrong things and will be restricted to reactive approaches. IT is dynamic, too – if your IT guy is hidden in the basement fixing broken computers, there’s no way your company will be taking advantage of new and better ways of doing things.
2. Connect the dots
Here’s an easy question: Do you know which business processes in your company are supported by which specific components of the IT department? If the answer turns out to be more difficult than it appeared at first glance, there’s a problem.
Unless your IT person understands the key processes which are necessary for operational success, and the precise components of the IT environment which supports those processes, there is no way he (or she) can prioritise repairs or interventions when things go wrong (and remember, this is IT, things will always go wrong).
It’s a two-way street, too. If you’re not the IT guy, but the business owner with an IT guy, it is just as important for you to take the time to understand the IT behind your processes. If you don’t, you’re at risk.
3. Assess the impact of failure
With the first two steps completed, there should be a shift emerging in the perceptions of what IT is there to do. Along with that shift, you are now you are equipped to better understand the impact should any of the technology supporting key business process fail.
Understanding that impact is important as it allows for the establishment of appropriate service level agreements for the support of essential elements of the technology environment. Many of those elements are interconnected, so knowing their exact state, whether healthy or otherwise, is necessary – and, of course, there are tools available which help do this.
Moving to a more strategic IT approach isn’t something that happens only in bigger businesses. In today’s environment, every business depends on computers and computer services – but not every business treats those services with the same level of appreciation.