Whether you have your own full-time IT staff, use an outsourced IT company or a combination of the two, how important is it that you understand what they are doing?
Business leaders normally don’t care what IT is doing unless there is a major problem or a major need. They don’t have time to be bothered with it. They expect IT to “just make it work.”
That philosophy and approach may have been fine several years ago, but in today’s technology-driven world, the less you know about your technology performance and plans, the more risk you assume. And the less you keep up with your competition.
As the business leader, if you don’t understand your technology plans and roadmap you’re asking for trouble!
What makes this paradigm shift even more vexing is that many business leaders do not understand technology enough to even question the road their technology group it taking them down. Business leaders are forced to just trust that the strategy is sound, the solutions match business requirements, and the technology skill-sets are present and available to provide the quality of ongoing support needed.
A Case Study with an Unfortunate Ending
Case in point, recently I was working with a professional services firm with 100+ staff. They were recently given a recommendation and supporting (rough) business case to bring all the technology from the data center back on-premises in the office. The reasons they were given for this move were: poor service, high cost and the large size of the firm.
The cost of making the move was well over $300,000 in initial capital expenditure, plus the addition of 2-3 more IT staff to help manage the environment.
The ongoing costs for IT staff, hardware and software support agreements (now that they would own it), facilities management (they had to build their own mini in-house data center) would cost well over $100,000 a year in perpetuity.
When I reviewed the plan it was immediately and abundantly clear that the internal IT staff was building their own fiefdom to create job security. Reviewing the stated pros and cons, I discovered that many were a stretch and some were flat-out misleading and wrong.
Hiring 2-3 additional IT staff alone is a cost red-flag (and avoiding that cost is a major value proposition for cloud solutions). Sadly, after investing in a project of this size, the firm feels obligated to use the solution, regardless of any flaws in the overall plan.
DON’T Learn This Lesson the Hard Way
The higher the risk, the higher the cost, the more disruptive the change. If you take one thing away from this post, it’s this: Have a third-party IT expert review your plan prior to final approval.
We understand that most companies are forced to trust in their IT group. They are forced to trust that the IT group always has the best interests of the company in mind and that they will do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.
With the technology options increasing almost exponentially, it becomes incumbent on the business leaders to ensure they first define then understand the overall IT strategy and plans. At least at a business level.
You may not want to do this. You may see it as a drain in your own productivity. But blindly following technology recommendations can have far worse consequences than ruining your day – it can ruin your business.
Technology Impact – Owning & Bringing the Datacenter Back In-House
The diagram above is a visual of this unfortunate case study. The increase in cost, business risk and technology disruption were all high — and one of those alone can be enough to warrant a third-party IT review — but where there is intersection of two or more it becomes critical.
Many companies have extremely experienced and talented in-house IT staff, and many times their recommendations are rock solid. But when the business is on the line, the extra step to obtain outside validation can only help everyone sleep better at night.
Technology Impact – Migrating to the Cloud
Using that same case study, had the firm done more analysis and due diligence to include migrating to the cloud, they would have found less risk, less cost and less business disruption.
The goal of this post is not to undermine or discredit your current IT staff. My purpose here is to ensure business leaders have the right amount of awareness, education and knowledge to make better IT-related decisions.
Business leaders do not have to be and should not be expected to be IT experts, but they should know when to reach out for assistance.
At Fluid, often times we are asked to play this role — not to slow or disrupt the process, but to provide professional review and advisory services in critical business decisions related to technology. We are asked to help companies define and create IT Roadmaps to meet their business objectives over the next three to five years.
Are you on the verge of making a huge IT decision, and you’re ready for an objective review before you sign on the dotted line? Contact us before you crack open that checkbook! We have a very talented team of experts with years of experience deploying onsite solutions and cloud solutions, and providing ongoing IT support for a wide array of industries. Our clients come in all shapes and sizes, so we understand what is at stake and take great pride and responsibility in the role we play in their success.