How is IT thought of in your organization? Is technology an influential tool to help improve efficiency in the workplace or just “something else to learn how to use?” Is IT an important factor in your company’s decision making process or more of an afterthought? Is the role of the IT organization to fix things when they break or to help plan for growth and profitability in the business?
These questions and others should be on the minds of any executives who want their organization to reach its goals and succeed in the competitive marketplace. Below are a few areas of focus to ensure technology is properly aligned with the goals of the business:
- Leadership: As with many things in a business, if there is not proper support from upper management and department heads, failure is almost inevitable. Many organizations fail to accomplish their technology goals, not because they don’t have the right tools or the right people or processes to implement, but because it is not accepted by users. Often, lack of acceptance comes from a trickle-down effect from the top. If organizational leaders are not positively pushing initiatives, they will be seen as unimportant, and thus, never fully accepted. So, how can an organization ensure everyone is on board with new technology initiatives? One first step is to form an IT Steering Committee. This committee should consist of leaders from various areas of the organization. The committee should not only have the ability to generate ideas and plans for technology, but also have authority to proceed with these plans. IT should be involved on this committee but should not dominate meetings; IT’s role is to explain the how. This is a committee made up of the business to serve the needs of the business. One of the most valuable benefits of an IT Steering Committee is that other individuals outside of IT will be taking responsibility of IT decisions, and they will thus become champions of the cause. Backing from department heads likely equals backing from entire departments.
- Industry awareness: One of the best things an executive can ask when discussing IT initiatives is “What are other organizations similar to us doing?” Being aware of what is happening in technology in your industry will help ensure your organization is staying on pace and poised to take competitive advantages when they become available. Industry events and publications are a great way for leadership to continue to have awareness into technology topics in their industry. A powerful way to keep abreast of technology and how it can affect your organization is to be aligned with a trusted technology partner. Having a technology partner with experience in your industry is key. Technology providers often work with many organizations and can provide their insight from their experience that can help your organization succeed. Not only can a technology partner advise you on what others in your industry are doing in IT, but they can also look to other organizations and draw parallels or help predict what may be coming soon to your sector.
- Culture: Leadership can definitely affect culture and some of the items mentioned in the first section can help solidify a positive workplace culture, but it is important to fully assess an organization’s culture, as strong culture is critical for succeeding in all areas of business. To spawn positive culture around IT, there needs to be an understanding between IT and the user base on expectations. Does IT expect users to “figure out” a new software because they themselves easily did on their own? Do users expect immediate resolutions to issues from IT staff that may be spread thin at times? Leadership needs to properly communicate expectations to both the users in the organization and the IT department. These expectations should be documented and decided by the IT Steering Committee. Prompt communication is also key to keeping an organization optimistic about IT. Any changes should be communicated to users in advance and users should know what to do and who to contact if they experience difficulty after those changes. Timely communication is critical during the resolution process as well. Users should know that their issues are being worked on and when they can expect further communication on the matter. Organizations should also invest in tools such as a help desk software to ensure this communication and resolution workflow is properly managed.
While reliable systems and best practices in technology are important for keeping a business running optimally, leadership, industry awareness, and culture need to be a central focus of executives wanting their IT organizations fully aligned with their business.
For a deeper dive into how your organization can keep IT and the rest of your business working together to reach common goals, please contact a RSM technology consulting professional by calling us at 800.274.3978 or emailing us. Or, please check out our services offerings on our website.