5 Problems IT Managers Absolutely Hate and How to Fix Them
“If it is not broken, don’t fix it.” We have heard this saying far too much. It may work for a child’s bicycle, but not for your business. Many organizations use this approach as a cost-cutting measure, but are they genuinely cutting costs or missing out on unrealized opportunities for growth?
If you take the wheels off a car, you would not have that cost to bare. However, while you might be able to start the vehicle, you cannot drive it, as it, would cause more damage than if you had wheels on the car. Similarly, if you do not change the tires on the vehicle when they need to be changed, you risk causing more damage and incurring an increased repair cost.
Think of your business as a vehicle that helps you reach your strategic goals. Over time you need to conduct maintenance and upgrades, to minimize the risk of downtime, financial losses, or closure. These upgrades may be the addition or removal of a product or service, refining processes, or implementation of new systems. No matter the business or industry, its backbone relies on information technology (IT).
In today’s highly competitive global market, one should ask the following questions before stating, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
- When last have I upgraded my technology?
These may include:
- Physical networking infrastructure – cabling and networking equipment (switches, routers, access points)
- Computer and Server systems
- Application Systems (security updates, email, anti-virus, other lines of business (LoB) applications)
- What are the new technologies used in my industry?
- Are my staff equipped with the tools to be most productive?
- Is my data being managed efficiently and securely?
- Can my operations continue in the event of a disaster?
The answers to these questions would determine if your organization is a high-performance organization or not. High-performance organizations are competitive, reduce waste, automate processes, and achieve increased revenues. Organizations that are not are either underperforming and susceptible to several adverse risks.
The Five Challenges and How To Fix Them
Many organizations aspire to become high-performance organizations but face several operational, technological, and financial challenges along the way.
These include, but are not limited to:
- A lack of data, reporting, and analysis of IT
- A lack of understanding of IT
- Inefficient IT budgeting
- A lack of competent IT staff
- An unwillingness to change
Challenge 1: A lack of data, reporting, and analysis of IT
A company’s most valuable asset is its data. A lack of access to real-time, accurate data hinders the ability to make investment decisions and limits the chances of achieving profitable growth. Data should be quickly disseminated to the correct persons and presented in a manner that is meaningful to obtain accurate and timely decisions.
Challenge 2: A lack of understanding of IT
According to Robert J. Szczerba,
“The advancement of technology generally evokes a range of emotions in people from all walks of life. Some view technology as a great evil that slowly diminishes our humanity, while others view it as a way to bring the world closer together and to help solve some of our greatest challenges.”
This obvious issue is one that we must acknowledge. Many of the decision-makers are not educated about technology, see it as a threat, and therefore, find difficulty in confidently providing their blessing to move forward with technology initiatives. As a result, decisions are delayed and, in many instances, a hesitation in concluding. Decision paralysis is a significant consequence of insufficient information and lack of understanding.
Persons who are uncomfortable with technology should not be shunned but coached. While this may produce challenges, no one should be left behind.
Challenge 3: Inefficient IT budgeting and forecasting
An IT budget and forecast provides a roadmap of your organization’s funding requirements for planned IT initiatives. For example, maintenance, certifications, enhancements, new implementations, etc. It is a numeric demonstration of your IT strategy and should be well communicated and understood by the stakeholders. Once done correctly, it merely affirms understanding and should get approved with minimal pushback.
Unfortunately, many organizations budget improperly due to the previously discussed points above. These result in cost overruns, loss of revenue, failed projects, and unrealized opportunities.
Challenge 4: A lack of competent IT staff
This challenge is two-fold:
- Hiring the wrong talent (trying to cut cost) – Do not skimp on the right talent, the pockets of your organization depend on it. Hiring the wrong talent is not a cost-cutting measure and brings unnecessary risk to your organization, quickly becoming very costly.
- Not investing in training for IT resources – Technology is continuously evolving and keeping up can become quite expensive. However, ensuring that your IT resources are “keeping up with the times” is a cost-savings approach. They would not only be equipped with the tools to manage and maintain your environment more efficiently but, make cost-saving recommendations to improve and scale the IT environment. There is the risk that the resource may leave the company with the knowledge and additional certifications obtained.
Alternatively, organizations can outsource certain IT functions to a Managed Services Provider (MSP). There are many benefits to this approach. The two major ones being a reduction in their IT costs and significantly benefitting from many qualified and experienced experts. Consider the table below, which compares three (3) IT models, Internal IT, MSP, and Hybrid approach.
Challenge 5: An unwillingness to change
Our aim is not to recite the Four Barriers to Organizational Change or the ADKAR Change Management Model, but to highlight the importance of understanding the organizational culture.
As Charles Darwin said,
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
It is essential for someone in the organization to understand change management to make the transition more comfortable and enjoyable. While it is common for large organizations to have a change management department, it is not always feasible for some small and mid-sized organizations. Alternatively, these organizations can onboard an Organizational Change Manager or Change Consultant to achieve the same result.
An investment in technology should not be reactive but proactive for an organization to grow successfully. Business intelligence solutions should be utilized to provide accurate, measurable data to support investment decisions. Persons who may not understand technology should not be shunned but provided with guidance and support so that they can benefit and be comfortable with the investment. It is crucial to have a proper IT budget and forecast, which would significantly reduce pushback and accelerate buy-in from stakeholders. The right talent and IT support model would reduce overall IT costs and improve operational efficiency. Lastly, understanding change and onboarding a change champion are crucial for the success of your IT initiatives.