Organizations have IT departments, but they don’t always understand how the IT department can best help. Yes, we keep the computers running. But there can be more than that. Much more.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as just telling the rest of the organization how to think about IT. The responsibility is not with the rest of the company to believe IT understands the business. The responsibility is on us to show that we understand it. Frequently.
A great system, implemented badly, will probably fail. A mediocre system, implemented beautifully, will probably succeed.
In the IT world, there are often projects that require selecting a product. The team determines requirements, creates a long list, reduces it to a short list, and makes a selection. This is usually done with large systems, like ERP.
It is important that we get the selection process right. The wrong technology can hamper our organization for years.
However, implementation is at least as important, if not more important, than selection.
Sitting at a computer or in meetings doesn’t really sound like a risky job, does it? However, the job of an IT Leader is full of things that might go wrong: decisions that may backfire, projects that don’t work, or vendors that cause problems. Technology can fail, security can fail, backups can fail.
We don’t have infinite time or money to mitigate all these risks. We have to accept some.
How should IT leaders think about risk?
It is with great satisfaction that I look back at myself five years ago and think about how much wiser and better I am. This feeling of satisfaction is tempered by the fact that five years from now I will say the same thing.Andy Rooney (probably paraphrased)
This quote has stuck with me over the years. I want to keep growing as a person. One of the consequences of this quote is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will look back at today and feel good about growing, getting wiser, getting better. Of course, the last line of the quote reminds me that this will happen continually so don’t get too full of myself.
I think a major part of this is the ability to change my mind about things.Read More
The processes in our companies are the activities that must take place to satisfy the Customer.
Regular processes are those that provide value to the products and services our company provides. We need to be good at these.
Exception processes are those that deal with problems when they come up. These are the processes that, if properly harnessed, can be used to improve our company.
What makes a good exception process?
As the leader of the IT department, we lead a team with lots of connections with the rest of the business. We lead a team that supports the technology and process needs of the entire business. We will make priority decisions and resource allocation decisions that impact the rest of the business. How can we do these things if we don’t understand the business?
The point of the IT department is to help the organization succeed. To do this, we need to understand that organization and the world it operates in. In addition, we must understand technology products, services, and trends enough to know how to apply them to our organization. We must understand the overlap between business and technology. That is where the IT department lives.
While this concept applies to any staff group in an organization, including HR, Finance, etc., let’s look at what this means for IT.
Dear IT Director,
We upgraded one of our major systems last year. We had some glitches, but overall it went fairly well. Here we are a year later, and people still blame the upgrade when they have problems. Very frustrating!
Upgraded in Upton
Hahaha! HAHAHA! C’mon, laugh with me. LOLOLOL! The only other option is to cry. There are a few things we can do to reduce this problem, but we can’t eliminate this completely because, well, people are people. And, in part, we did this to ourselves. Let me explain.
We need to always think about the future. Everything we do today affects us, our team, and the company in the future.
We know that being proactive is better than being reactive. Anticipating the future and taking actions to deal with future events is the right approach. Reacting to events can make us appear slow. Being proactive and not reactive has been excellent advice for many years.
But being proactivity is no longer enough.
I believe that a core component of leading people is to understand and leverage their strengths. Everyone has parts of their job they are good at and parts they aren’t. Knowing the parts they are good at and figuring out how to use that strength is important. Let me give an example.