As part of our IT consulting for small and medium businesses, we often need to evaluate non-technical aspects of the business.
We recently visited an organization where the director was concerned that the IT infrastructure was outdated and that the IT manager wouldn’t take direction and had insufficient skills. Seemed simple enough, but this time there was more to the story.
The IT manager had a common techie personality. He thinks he knows what’s best for everyone. If you can’t speak tech or if you don’t work there then you don’t have anything useful for him. He does things his way no matter what. Clearly there are some major HR issues here. And you can’t solve people problems with technology – you’ve got to do that the traditional way with training, job reassignment, or possibly termination if nothing else works.
We looked at the technology in place. It wasn’t outdated. Not leading edge either, but in an OK place in the middle. We made some technical recommendations for improvements, but it wasn’t as bad as the director feared.
The IT manager had been asked to create a 5 year strategic plan. The result was essentially a shopping list of components and upgrades to current systems. No new technology or new ways to use existing technology. It seemed clear that the IT manager was out of touch with the rest of the organization. But wait…
We dug a little deeper and learned that the organization doesn’t have a strategic plan. No specific goals or major projects. How does even the best IT manager make plans and participate in the budget process if he doesn’t know where the organization is heading?
So what did we learn? Strategic goals need to come from top management and be communicated clearly to all the departments. Department managers, including IT, need to work together to implement the plans. In order to work with the other managers, the IT manager needs better communication skills. And the rest of the staff could use a better understanding of the “techie” personality.
Does your organization have a strategic plan? Are clear goals communicated to managers? Do your managers relay this information to their staff? Are managers and employees evaluated against these goals?
And since this is an IT blog … Is your IT manager included in your planning process? IT has a role in almost everything you do. Keeping your IT staff engaged makes IT a valuable toolset to help you meet your goals. Otherwise IT is just along for the ride.
If your IT manager is lacking communication skills, you need to work a little harder. Make sure to focus on the big things: a thorough plan should encompass System Administration (this is the hardware and software systems including computers and servers), Networks and Internet, and Risk Management. What do they need to know to achieve success in these areas?
How does your organization measure up? Strategic goals well communicated? IT fully on board and helpful? How can we help?