Really, do you even know if you are the bottleneck for technology in your business? If you take on too much and try to control too much, the signs right from the get go are not promising. I have seen this happen a lot over the years and it has major impact on the culture of a company, the engagement % of the employees and teams, and of course the bottom line profit.
A Few Popular Common Technology Mistakes
The owner is in a role because he started the business vs. being in a role where his strengths are.
Obviously, the owner(s) of the business must be somewhat smart, but over time that can create a false sense of success. The owners start believing they can do everything, especially when it comes to technology. The “Y” generation is blowing by them because they expect technology to just be there so they can do their job and use the tools they know. Read Y-Size Your Business to understand how they think – it is an eye opener.
Answer – Let Go. Put some metrics in place or something you can measure at a high level. You know what they are for your business, it could be number of calls, sales, service calls, etc. Just get the heck out of the way and let the right person implement technology that gets it.
The Owner/CEO is getting filtered and very opinionated information from the person in charge of IT regarding technology direction.
Man, I wish I had a buck for every time this happens. Being in charge of IT can be a daunting task! They are expected to know everything from security to databases to applications. That just cannot happen. I usually break down the IT in 3 groups to help explain the technology side of a business. This can vary a bit but for the most part it helps the CEO/Owner get their head around it.
Level 1 – The Break/Fix support role
This role usually known as the “technician” handles, printer issues, problems with the computer, basic network issues, etc. This person is what we call a help desk or “Junior” level person and is paid appropriately. If you have a lot of people, this person can pay for themselves as long as they are managed appropriately.
Level 2 – The Server/Network role
This role usually known as the “engineer” handles server related issues, connectivity items like internet access, connecting multiple locations, phones, and security related issues. They keep the servers secure and is responsible for backups regardless if they are on premise or in the cloud. This person is usually known as the “Senior” IT person in a company. They have multiple certifications that relate to the role and continue to update and add certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, VMWare, etc. If this person is good, there is usually a high turnover in this role as you only upgrade servers every 3 years or so.
Level 3 – The Chief Information Officer (CIO)
This is strategy role for technology direction. This role is supposed to work with the CEO and CFO to align business strategy with the technology strategy. Usually this person does very little with touching servers, workstations or any piece of the network because they are the high-level thinker and don’t know the details anymore.
All of the roles above are needed in a business however if it is a small company it can be one person or a couple people handling the roles.
The CIO role is usually the most problematic as they can know about technology and potentially get the right information to the Owner/CEO/CFO, but usually it is very opinionated and can be flawed. The BIGGEST PROBLEM is there are 2 roles missing that are now flowing through the CIO and normally they shouldn’t.
So 2 more roles or responsibilities that have been flowing through IT is the “Applications” role, and the “Data” role. Between these two roles, they highly influence the accounting systems, line of business systems, customer information systems, desktop applications, specialty applications, and how they integrate together. The PROBLEM is that is usually not the strength of the CIO. There are huge $$ associated with all of these roles, but these two roles can have high impact on your company.
- Do you know who is handling all these roles in your company?
- Do you have an outside person or consultant validating IT direction and software selection?
- Do you have anyone mapping out processes and data flow to see how much duplication entry there is?
- Do you have a technology roadmap that is aligned with your business strategy? (CEO/Owner owns this)
- Are you planning for adopting portions of cloud computing now or in the soon future?
- Do you know absolutely your data is safe and can be restored?
If you have all of these covered – GREAT. You are the exception!! Make sure to know the roles, know who is responsible and accountable for them. AND please watch out for the insecure CIO, they can be faking it, which is not good. As the CEO/Owner, give them grace as they cannot know all of the above, allow them to work with others to figure it out. Get them training so they can stay up to date on a lot more as this is usually the biggest mistake. Send them to training, trades shows, and peer groups so they can learn from others best practices. I guarantee it will contribute to a well run company.