Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Running IT as Digital Reinforcer

It is not that businesses need to reinforce IT ASAP, but they need to reinforce accountability.

There are stresses in many professions and people must respond accordingly. Technology is becoming more critical than ever before and organizations will need to ensure that IT professionals are challenged, but not overwhelmed if they expect to retain them. So why haven't more technology professionals and business leaders leveraged managed services to reduce the burden affordably, and how to run IT as the digital reinforcer?

Fortifying ownership mentality: Leaders need to own such problems. The organizational leaders and IT leaders (at all levels) create this environment. There are too many excuses on why work and stress loads are at their current levels, it’s time for leaders to own the problem. They (again at all levels) need to fully understand the issue and decide to remedy it. Stressing out employees is not helpful to the company or its stakeholders in the long-run. It exposes how a leader might address the pressures his/her staff feel; how that leader keeps his/her focus on the staff to ensure personnel is professionally healthy. Is that leader in touch and engaged with the reality of what the department is facing, do they help achieve success or just take credit for it? Set boundaries between your staff and those they serve; enforce those boundaries and allow your people to have a life outside of work. Promote the staff who ignores those boundaries because they are leaders who take further responsibility and think holistically.

Highlighting competitive differentiation: A clear understanding of what services are supporting your competitive advantage is needed. Services not critical in this regard can be brought/bought outside. As IT is increasingly supportive of the competitive position and the business, in general, careful consideration must be made about which knowledge or skills have to be secured. Mis-judgement in this regard will hamper the long-term ability of the IT department to independently support strategic initiatives from the business. Your supplier will help you out but will offer the same solutions to the competition. The alternative solution though might be an increasing quality of the IT departments, delivering services first time right takes less effort than fixing issues and business will be pleased as well.

Reinforcing accountability: It is not that businesses need to reinforce IT ASAP, but they need to reinforce accountability. A lot of issues come from false reports and hotfixes for resolution. Standardized Enterprise Reports will show where resolution needs to be in place across the board and can allow in meetings to show strength or weakness in the company. The right formula also depends on the organization and what they are trying to accomplish. If you have very tech-capable users, the attention to the support experience may not be as important as having highly qualified development staff. A quality IT leader will gather the requirements from the business leaders and develop a plan that, while it may not be their personal favorite, submits to the needs of the business.

Embracing varying perceptions: This is a great topic because if your people fail, your mission fails. How you find a solution to any problem depends on your perspective on that problem, but every problem has numerous angles to take into consideration. Thus, in most cases, it boils down to how you view the problem from two different outlooks; from above or from below. Now you still have all the different angles to consider but they may look very different depending on your perspective. Whether you are looking from above (CXOs) or below, both have the intention to ensure the best result for the company. From above and understanding that this viewpoint is vital to the long-term goals of an organization, managed services can look like a great answer. You get technical expertise, a deep bench of resources at a reasonable annual cost. You eliminate some of the employees relates expenses, responsibility, and overhead particularly in regards to choosing good employees or dealing with bad hires. On paper your costs are trending down, your network diagram and technical portfolio look stronger and your business continuity seems significantly more robust. All of these elements might, in fact, be true depending on where you started from, but from a different angle, see a different point of view.

Shaping governance and capacity planning: Capacity planning needs to be part of the corporate initiatives around continuous improvement. Capacity modeling is just one of the activities that are required for a high performing IT department. This will allow for a transparent view from across the organization that should help level the playing field. Better yet, if all the departments in the business practice capacity planning, you will move closer to organizational harmony and efficacy, and it is important to measure the ROI on such an activity. Capacity planning will not lower the workload; however, it will give management a true picture of activities so a decision can be made on the ideal workload. The key to successful capacity planning is to know what you are doing, being transparent, and clear leadership (at all levels) and governance so everyone knows what they are to execute on. Implementing governance requires effort and expense. If the technical leadership is already on its heels managed services can reinforce the IT department and help implement those policies with CIOs. Too many organizations lack a governance system and are in reactive mode. A quality program within the IT department will enable you to switch to a proactive mode and bring you in control. Any minute saved fixing issues will enable you to spend another minute preventing one & supporting business initiatives. 
Strengthening the CIO leadership: Last, but not the least, the issue of IT project failure rate has more to do with the CIO leadership, or the lack of it, more than anything else. Too many IT leaders are chosen for their technical skills rather than their influential leadership ability. When this is carried to the C-level, it becomes a recipe for disaster for the entire enterprise. The CIO must be involved in two types of integration. The most important thing is the integration of technology with the goals of the enterprise because technology without business application has no value. The second is integration between technologies so that the entire system is much greater than the sum of its parts. This second piece of integration can be delegated to a technology systems integrator on the CIO's team. However, integration with the business requires a CIO who is fully enmeshed with the other executive staff members in the business aspects of the enterprise. This leadership and business-oriented CIO can then take the real business needs back to their technology team and get them working on the right things. This CIO will see technology as a tool to meet business needs and make the enterprise more competitive and successful. That attitude will filter through the organization and the team will strongly feel the responsibility to help choose business supporting technologies that will be successful.

Organizations rely more and more on technology; the IT department has more and more to overcome. Running at digital speed, people tend to have high expectation of digital flow, very little patience with technology issues, and, therefore, businesses have to spend enough time focusing on the people element, start with leadership, enhance governance practice, and reinforce IT based on tailored solution and continuous improvement.


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