When Businesses Lack Proactive / Strategic IT

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Symptom: The business leaders are dealing with their own issues and opportunities and technology is not helping. In most cases, technology is hurting by reacting after a business interruption due to a technology issue instead of preventing the issues from occurring in the first place.

Here are a few direct quotes from leaders:

“Missing better adoption of technology in general.”

“If we introduce new products, there is only one person that can do that. So it will all fall on my shoulders.”

“There is no one at the helm of IT.”

“I would like a corporate IT philosophy.”

“We need to have some sort of planning of what we want in terms of technology.”

“Not involving others in the planning of future technology.”

“We are missing ideas on how something could be done better for an organization our size and to be realistic.”

Treating Symptom: Assign one current non-technology-focused executive to be in charge of IT. Or worse, make each department head by default the head of technology for their department. Rarely is moving an executives focus away from their core competency, a positive change. They do not have time to understand the available solutions, do not have experience with solutions in similar organizations and worst of all do not have developed processes for managing the selection and adoption of technology solutions.

Root Cause: You lack a technology executive and a process to get all your business departments on the same page when it comes to a technology plan, and to keep that plan relevant and current.

Solution: Strategic IT, means that you have a technology alignment plan that you are executing with the support of each department and managed by an experienced technology executive.

Here is how:

  1. Put together a list of high-level questions around the current state of the business, where the business is going, and what more IT could do to help.
  2. Schedule 30 minutes to an hour with each department head.
  3. Interview department heads one on one, and document all the answers.
  4. Hire a fractional technology executive to work with you to create a one-page annual strategic plan that supports your business strategy and have your president approve it. The plan should have short term and long term goals and be based on the interview answers.
    1. Make sure that you show the connection between interview data and each of the items that end up on the plan. The more of your business leaders that made comments related to the item, the more likely it truly is surviving the greater need of the business.
  5. Provide this plan to your information technology department or firm.
  6. Review and update this plan quarterly through a meeting with representatives from each department and your fractional technology executive.

I realize this process might appear overwhelming, and that it looks like it would take a lot of time from your business leaders who already are stretched thin.

So let’s look at the investment:

  • We have over 2,000 work hours in a year. Up to 1 hour for each business leader (0.05%), and up to two hours for the president annually (0.1%) to have an easy to follow a strategic IT plan.
  • Your technology executive will spend up to three hours per business leader they interview and if you consider the average small- to medium-sized business has seven business leaders, that would come up to about twenty hours annually (1%).
  • Said differently, a total of 28 hours annually (6 hours for business leaders + 2 hours for president + 20 hours for technology executive) compared to 14,000 leadership team hours (assuming a 7 person leadership team) is 0.2%, basically a rounding error.

What is the return on your investment:

  • When aligning business with technology, aim and measure for a 30% annual increase in what you consider the most important metric in your business. To get more clarity on the value, read Deloitte’s Reimagining the role of technology.
  • Reduction of technology waste on initiatives that have minimal value for the business.

If you still feel overwhelmed, or want to maximize the impact based on years of experience and a refined technology steering process, we can help.

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