Managing IT for Success

It’s a common problem in IT departments everywhere: as a company grows and market dynamics change, business needs must keep pace. The IT department finds itself continually pushed by upper management demands for low cost, flexible IT systems with quick turnaround time.
Though the juggling act isn’t easy, there are steps managers can take to create an IT department that’s ready for whatever the future holds. The key is to be agile, adaptive, and proactive.
Let’s have a look at some different scenarios — and occasional misconceptions — commonly found in IT departments:
“We are just a support arm” – IT organizations perceive themselves as “only” support arm for various business units. As a result, many teams work in isolation rather than in a collaborative environment despite being tasked with important responsibilities like operational enablement, process automation, and ensuring low system downtime. Unfortunately, this means that many companies lose sight of the fact that IT is not just an enabler but an integral part of growth strategy.
“We don’t have a say in customer relations” – Traditionally, the customer acquisition process involves showcasing the of capabilities of company’s core product and service areas. In the past, IT departments rarely had a role in this process but now prospective customers are beginning to evaluate the IT backbone of vendor companies to ensure they are capable of efficiently and effectively responding to their needs. IT departments must be agile enough to show that the company’s IT infrastructure is robust and adaptable enough to meet the dynamic requirements of the prospective and current customer.
“IT governance is the responsibility of divisional managers” – IT organizations usually restrict authorizations and access controls to only what is strictly necessary within a company’s various departments. This overlooks the fact that IT is the connecting platform between an organization’s internal users and external threats like virus and crackers. It is therefore imperative that IT managers play a significant role in overall IT governance to ensure maximum security within an organization.
“It’s just all about compliance” – Much of the daily effort of an IT department centers around achieving compliance and preparing for internal system audits. This fails to take into account that compliance and norms have a direct impact on the way business runs. When a company increases its global presence it must, of course, make sure to meet global compliance standards. The IT organization in such a scenario needs to be adaptable enough to make this transition a smoothly and seamlessly.
Becoming agile, adaptive, and pro-active
Align strategic intent with IT focus – It is imperative for companies to make IT initiatives an integral part of their growth strategy, not just a support activity. A clear strategic roadmap is invaluable to leveraging an IT department’s ability to contribute to a company’s growth objectives.
Scan the environment – An industry’s landscape is often very competitive, making it critical for companies to keep a close eye on the market and look for areas where they might gain a competitive edge. Watch competitors and partners closely to spot trends and analyze gaps where other systems are better serving customers than the methods your company employs.
Work in collaboration with others – Customers and vendors directly — and sometimes indirectly — impact the activities of an IT organization. Many organizations encourage regular meetings of business users, IT managers, and vendors to identify each other’s challenges and discuss areas of improvement. It’s common practice for some companies to openly share their complete IT strategy and roadmap so current and prospective vendors can offer targeted IT products and services at competitive prices. Sharing IT strategies with customers helps them understand and appreciate the effectiveness of IT systems.
Scale technology to business demands – As companies grow, so do their business requirements. IT organizations should be agile enough to respond to these changes by implementing IT systems which are scalable and flexible in nature. Many companies have opted for open architecture and on-demand solutions that have proven to be an extremely cost-effective way to adapt to the changing needs of customers.
Ask the right questions – Continuously ask questions to ensure that IT initiatives are heading in the right direction and meeting overall organizational objectives. Is our IT system meeting customer needs? Are customers satisfied? Are we continuously evaluating our current systems and watching for alternative solutions? Regular IT system audits and involvement from top management are effective tools to help get questions like these answered.
These days, the most effective IT organizations are agile enough to respond to customer needs and market dynamics, adaptable enough to make internal changes smoothly and seamlessly, and pro-active enough to collaborate with both customers, vendors and management. Is your IT department ready for the next generation of IT management?

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