So many business managers and owners I meet say that their in-house IT person has all their tech needs “covered”. When I probe a bit further I usually discover that their definition of “covered” is far from complete. In some cases they’ve found a talented professional who is equally comfortable with everything from servers to application support. But when I ask if they are also carefully testing the backups, quickly helping with the daily barrage of staff issues, juggling the looming project deadlines and also drafting a technology budget for next year, they admit that not all tasks are going well.
Does your total technology picture resemble an iceberg?
In many instances, businesses have hired a person who is talented in only one of the many areas of expertise required to have a smoothly running business today. Or they have multiple skills but are over-subscribed. Rare is the person who can excel at network security, SQL application support and also the research and budgeting needed to move the company vision forward.
When thinking about a company’s complete scope of technology challenges, I envision an iceberg. Above the surface are the known costs: technology hardware and software products, support staff salaries and recurring costs including telecommunications and Cloud agreements. But without a handle on the unidentified technology costs—or a vision of how technology will fuel business growth—a company can make missteps that sacrifice productivity, profit and security. When only considering the expenses above the waterline, these oversights can actually slow business growth and innovation. Below the water, icebergs are large and dangerous; the tech iceberg presents hazards to business success. Here are just a few of the unseen risks:
Wasted time leads to lower revenue
When a server is down or an application doesn’t open quickly, high-paid professional staff can’t perform their duties. Think of how lost productivity affects your business: are missed sales opportunities; distracted, unhappy employees and misused management time part of the picture?
Persistent issues may lead to serious problems
Unaddressed problems not only waste time but can also snowball into full-blown disasters. Bad data wiring leads to a host of connection problems and poor security can create compliance penalties or even the introduction of malware (ransomware, for example) into the network. Insufficient documentation and lost knowledge of how to fix problems result in the same issues occurring over and over.
Even a talented tech will be ineffective if pulled in too many directions. I call this the “hair on fire” effect—every time I speak with them they are overwhelmed by trying to fix multiple problems at once. Is it any wonder they don’t have time to perform due diligence on a Cloud contract or formulate a 5-year technology budget plan?
This is where Technology Management is most effective. The “fire-fighting” ends when focusing your staff on the areas in which they can be most effective and then outsourcing the rest. If your IT person is patient and helpful in helping the staff with computer problems, it makes sense to remove the management of core devices from their plate. If they are great at managing applications but have trouble relating to the staff, using a responsive help desk will be very effective.
As the pieces of the submerged part of the iceberg melt, the business will start to pick up steam. The result is that everyone is happier and smooth sailing toward business profitability will be on the horizon.