One of the most painful parts of our job is reporting to a new client that their IT assets are not performing as they thought they were. When we first meet with management during the Discovery Phase, we determine what the business is about, its culture, its strategy, goals and objectives; then, we dig into the IT infrastructure and services. We ask a variety of questions to determine how IT aligns with the business.
In almost every instance, there is a wide gap between our findings and what management thought IT was doing for the business.
In many organizations, management is caught in a communication gap between tech-speak and business-speak and, consequently, has no idea what their IT provider (or internal IT team) is up to. Since the IT group often operates without the constructive involvement of management, IT does not know or understand what is critical to the company’s success, beyond the standard “sell more, spend less” battle cry. Enthusiastically, they fulfill requests by different corporate functions with disjointed, short-term, low-cost “solutions” to appease the upper crust of the company.
It is common for management to take one of two normal responses when an IT team proposes a solution or requests funding to improve systems:
- Deny funding – Usually because the IT group has failed to articulate to management the value of the solution in terms management can understand. All management can see are the dollars being spent.
- Management shrugs its shoulders, hands the IT group a fat allowance and looks the other way. Later on, the company finds it has paid an outrageous price for the latest technological fad.
Instead of addressing the problem, many companies fire someone in the internal IT team or get rid of the IT service provider. Sadly, the distrust management has for IT is further justified and deepened.
The result of this management-IT disconnect is that IT is an expensive mess. Systems are down, slow or faulty, critical information is not available to decision-makers when they need it and customers begin to complain. It is estimated that the average business loses 20% of its corporate IT budget on purchases that fail to achieve their objectives.
How can this situation be resolved?
IT success requires clarity and a common understanding.
Senior managers know how to talk about finances, because they all speak or understand the language and can agree on a common set of metrics (profit and loss, balance sheets, return on asset, and so on.) They can do the same with most elements of their operations including customer service and marketing, so why not with IT? It should be the norm for IT projects, purchases or processes to be evaluated against common business metrics, as well. The common ground for both management and IT is the business itself! Therefore, the common language must be business-speak.
Nontechnical executives should not allow themselves to be befuddled by IT discussions or bedazzled by IT acronyms. And there is no reason why technologists cannot learn to speak the language of business.
Resourceware is Oklahoma City’s premiere forward-thinking, full service IT provider: architecture, maintenance, management and monitoring for businesses of all sizes. Our IT OKC blog is our way of showcasing the community we serve. Connect with us on Facebook at Resourceware and on Twitter @ResourcewareIT.