By: Nick Maslanka
Symptom: Organizations struggle to make informed decisions when evaluating and adopting new technology solutions. There is often a disconnect between the needs of the operational staff and the strategic goals of the leadership team. This results in a number of common problem areas:
- Staff feels unsupported by or at odds with the Information Technology department.
- The company culture is negatively impacted and staff feels like the organization’s computers & systems are working against them.
- Leadership teams see a gap between their investment in technology and improvements in core performance metrics.
Here are a few direct quotes from leaders:
“Leadership doesn’t know how to adopt technology to improve the business.”
“People are set in their ways, it’s difficult to get buy-in on any changes.”
“Our CRM system is old & archaic but we don’t know what else to do.”
“Our ERP wasn’t fully configured when it was implemented; the initial scope didn’t include the customizations we needed and now we’re paying the price.”
Treating Symptom: One of two possible scenarios generally occur:
- Outdated & unsupportable solutions remain in place and become increasingly expensive to maintain. Employees create their own workarounds to avoid these legacy systems entirely and only use them when absolutely necessary. IT ceases to be an innovator and becomes purely a cost center.
- New technologies are deployed in rapid succession and layered upon each other to solve newly-identified gaps. Employee adoption of these technologies slows to a glacial pace and productivity drops due to change fatigue and inefficiency.
Root Cause: You lack a formalized process for technology governance to ensure decisions will achieve the desired results.
Solution: Adopt a shared leadership model with Technology. Impanel a Technology Committee that is accountable for the adoption of your Technology Alignment Plan.
Here is how:
- Select one designee from each department to participate in a monthly Technology Committee meeting. The ideal designee is collaborative, respected within their team, open to change, and self-motivated.
- Impanel the committee and develop a structured framework for executing IT projects. This framework should include an outline of current state, articulated goals & desired outcomes, milestones, and estimated involvement from internal and external stakeholders (The IDS structure from EOS/Traction is fantastic for this).
- Review the Technology Alignment Plan with the committee and provide clear direction as to their priorities and timelines.
- Empower the committee to drive Technology-related projects & initiatives forward
The leadership team is accountable to deliver strategic objectives to the Technology Committee through the Technology Alignment Plan. The Technology Committee is accountable for executing the stated objectives through the evaluation, selection, and adoption of technology solutions.
Outcome: Once your Technology Committee is meeting on a regular basis, the benefits will likely come in phases.
Initially, you will cultivate a sense of shared responsibility across different teams. The Technology Committee will first review the Technology Alignment Plan and enumerate the biggest Technology-related issues that exist within your organization. People generally think their department’s issues are the most important until they realize that every other department must navigate their own IT hurdles.
Once the issues are captured and the Committee has a better understanding of the organization’s strategic goals, the next benefit will be direct & actionable feedback to Leadership with recommendations on how to solve the highest priority items. The Committee will brainstorm specific solutions to each TAP goal and present them to Leadership in a structured format that contains milestones, value justifications, and direct benefits/outcomes.
With an action plan in hand, Leadership will be able to review the formal proposals and quickly make informed decisions that get communicated back to the Committee. From there, the TAP goal & project plan can be executed by the Committee.
The Committee generally gains momentum after completion of the first project and quickly becomes operationalized within your organization. Staff will raise ideas to their department’s Committee designee, while the designee can deliver feedback back to the department with priority & status of various issues. The end result is that every employee becomes a valued stakeholder in technology decisions and Leadership can more easily achieve TAP goals.
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.