Do You Feel Trapped by IT? I just listened to the audio version of “Who Moved my Cheese.” If you haven’t read it, you should. It is a quick read and a good reminder of staying aware of the changes going on around us. This is especially true with technology as things can move pretty fast and we need to keep our change skills sharp in order to continue to add value.
Last week, I spoke at a CFO Summit about emerging technologies, trends, managing IT, the Cloud, and a few other topics. One of the points discussed was the reporting structure of the CIO or IT Manager. The CIO reporting structure has shifted to reporting to the CFO, which is good for many reasons, but it means the CFO must now try to understand technology and the impact on the business. Historically this has not been the role of the CFO, but now it is — and it is an important one.
Some CFOs glaze over during executive team meetings because they don’t fully comprehend the technology. They are fully engaged through the accounting, ERP, and business process discussions, but when we hit the technology, database, and integration layers, the mental checkout begins. Now this is dangerous because there are CIO’s who are not following important and necessary best practices. There are many reasons for this but the biggest one is that CIOs and IT Managers are not retooling their skills to coincide with the rapid pace of technological changes.
When this happens in strategy sessions and meetings we have to navigate it carefully because it can be a sensitive issue due to perceived lack of control and understanding of how things are working. Most CFO’s are risk averse but having an IT person who does not embrace best practices, including documentation, backup resources, and outsourced relationships for assistance when needed, is surely an identified risk.
Recently in a meeting with a CFO and his top IT people, I inquired about system backups, retention policies, disaster recovery and offsite storage. I was shocked at the answer. The IT managers had the backup replication going to the homes of the two IT managers. Wow! Talk about risk — this company is seriously exposed!
The bottom line is that CEO’s, owners and CFO’s need to think of technology like they do audits. Having an outside firm come in and audit IT should be a common practice just like auditing your books. You can’t know everything and having someone outside take a look at your IT setup, identify risks and make recommendations. As they say “knowledge is power” and at minimum you will know where you stand. Managing IT folks can present another set of challenges, but embracing them and helping technology give your business a strategic advantage should be the primary goal.
TAKE THESE ACTIONS NOW
- Read – Who Moved my Cheese
- Get an outside IT Assessment or Audit (you really need to understand where you stack up)
- More assessments may be needed after the initial one, but that will become apparent after the first assessment
- Do a whiteboard session with the CFO, CIO and CEO to make sure there is alignment.
- Owners — share the business strategy with IT so they can understand the “why.”
- If you don’t understand the importance of why — watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk on Why.
- Have someone from the outside help you do your CIO/IT Manager reviews
- This may reveal some education that is needed for the IT team
- This also breaks down the insecurity of them losing their jobs if certain decisions are made
If you feel trapped by IT or by the IT team, prioritize fixing it, as it will not go away on its own. Some options are:
- Help them with their education plans for the business’ IT needs
- Change their seat/position in the company (from Jim Collins — Good to Great)
- Get them off the bus — an extreme decision but a wrong skill set or a bad attitude is infectious and detrimental to the health of the company
If You’re Not Riding The Wave of Change – You’ll Find Yourself Beneath It.
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment