Dear IT Director,
Help! We are running around with our hair on fire, working on too many business projects. Our IT processes need help, but we don’t have any time to improve them.
Overwhelmed in Omaha
I feel your pain. The list of changes the business needs is long and you want to get it done faster. At the same time, you and your team know how to improve your processes to become more efficient. But there is no time. How do you stop working on the business tasks to improve IT?
Unfortunately, that is the wrong question. Setting up an either/or trade off misses a fundamental point: IT is part of the business. IT isn’t a department that sits apart from business. IT isn’t sitting on the shore watching everyone else row the boat. IT is in the boat rowing (and repairing and improving) as well.
The better question is this:
Here are some examples:
- By automating the employee onboarding/offboarding process, we will spend less time on those processes and more time on other work.
- By changing from spreadsheets to Jira, we will do a better job tracking progress on change requests and be able to communicate better to requesters.
- By developing a web interface into our systems, we can develop applications faster.
Because we expect the business to justify their improvements, and IT is part of the business, we have to justify IT improvements the same way.
The end results are not more sales or better Customer service, the results are faster IT which can help the business.
While there are improvements (like security) that have other benefits, the biggest benefit you can aim for is SPEED. Identify ways to make your department faster, quantify that speed improvement, and put it in the queue along with everything else.
Treat IT changes as business changes. Justify them the same as you do other changes. You won’t get everything you want, but maybe you will get the changes you need.
The IT Director
Portions of this article are excerpts from my book, The I.T. Leaders’ Handbook, available in paperback and ebook from fine bookstores everywhere.