You may be outgrowing your information technology capabilities, but how can you know, why is it happening, and what is the best response?
How do you know you are outgrowing your IT?
There are several symptoms you can identify, and if you are taking the time to read this, there is a good chance you already have these. Some of them include:
- You have unplanned outages, or even worse have lost data. If you see more down time, or have lost hours of data input, you have likely outgrown your IT. They are in fire fighting mode and losing the battle.
- Your defined objectives are not being met – you will often see this in the projects and strategic needs. For example, your sales team needs better tracking and access to customer data, so a strategic plan includes identifying and deploying a CRM system, but months later it seems like little real progress has been made.
- Users have persistent complaints about responsiveness of help in using the systems – tickets are submitted, but are not handled quickly, causing issues to remain for a long time, impacting productivity and satisfaction.
- The IT function does not present any valuable ideas to grow the business, and behaves “reactively.” There is a lot of “fire fighting”, which is disruptive to initiatives, and allows little time for creative thought and new value.
- Your team does not have answers. Not only is it dealing with the issues above, but when asked how to solve it, there is no plan other than “give us more money”.
Why do you outgrow your IT?
Businesses are organic organizations changing as new people, operational methods, and technologies change (who does it, how they do it, what they do it with). If any of these does not keep up, the balance is lost and the failing component will affect the others. Information Technology encapsulates all of three: technology personnel use operational methods and the technology tools they select to serve the needs of the business. Every other function, from design, production, service lines, sales, and back office operations also encapsulates these three components, so any department may face this. And any department that does not keep up with the others slows all of them down.
So if the people of information technology (employed or not) are not sufficient for the needs, or the methods used are not aligned with the business, or the tools are insufficient or obsolete, you will need to resolve the issue.
Information technology is an interesting component of an organization. Unlike some other components, it has to deal with changes in all aspects at a rapid pace, along with threats from the outside. This means it must change more quickly than most business components in order to meet the needs of the organization. While production in manufacturing may use the same machine for over a decade, or accounting rules remain relatively static, and sales remains a relationship game – information technology is changing a rapid pace. It is hard to realize it, but Facebook in ten years has grown to 1.7 billion active users, computing power has grown by about 100 times since 1995, and the the iPad Pro in 2015 is about twice as fast as a high end PC from 2010, yet many businesses try to keep running the same technology for the same purposes for a decade or more, not accounting for the changing world around them. The personnel also can become static, stuck in a view that “X won’t work because we already tried that”, so guess what, you as an organization will never have X! And the methodology is trapped by a lack of new thought and tools. While this atrophy is happening, threats by third parties and competitive forces cause continued downward spiral of information technology capabilities. This results in very expensive propositions eventually being forced on the organization, the ultimate reactive problem.
What is the best response to outgrowing your IT?
There are several moving parts, so which ones needs tweaking? Probably all of them; as shown above they are interrelated and all must be considered. A suggested approach:
- Personnel – evaluate the team build, including internal and external resources for skill set, interests, and engagement with the organization. Some roles are more suited to being external as they do not provide a clear competitive advantage like network management, help desk, telecommunications support (is getting a user’s Outlook setup for email really a competitive advantage?). Others do provide a clear advantage when integrated tightly, such as software development and support, ERP system management, data reporting, and IT leadership.
- Operational Methodology – The means by which the IT function performs its services and integrates with the rest of the organization is the operational methodology it employs. If the IT department feels that all requests must be done via a long form completed in triplicate, it will be a burden to the business. The methodology should be evaluated from the way requests are made, the project or service planning and tracking methods, and the way system upgrades and development efforts are accomplished. As new platforms come to market, like mobile devices, new methods must be used to support them. If you are still doing thing the same way you did them five years ago, you may already be behind the curve.
- Technology – The tools are changing quickly, and suffer from reduced capabilities and greater risk when not maintained, upgraded, and replaced on a schedule that makes sense for the business and its strategy and budget. A technology plan that identifies what technologies are obsolete and need to be removed, what will be maintained or enhanced, and what new pieces will be brought in should be created.
Keystone offers assessments of the current systems, the operational methods, and the personnel to help you determine the severity of the issue, and create a response plan to bring your IT up to the level needed. We grade your IT capability on a 1 – 5 scale, where 1 is a reactive, fire fighting team with a lot of disruptions, and 5 is a mature IT capability that is bringing new ideas and capabilities to the business, instead of dragging the enterprise down. In fact bringing Keystone on move you to a 3 almost immediately, and creates a direction where 5 can be achieved. We also do team assessments to identify the skills and best use of these resources, and we evaluate your technology to identify the risks and areas of weakness. You will receive a comprehensive assessment that gives you a clear direction. Call us today to discuss your concerns, and answer the question “Have I outgrown my IT?”