Thursday, March 30, 2023
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Technology Leadership: Who Really Drives It?

by Scott Lewis

We have all faced that frustration with our IT department in getting things fixed, installed, upgraded or in some cases getting the most simplest of answers to the most basic questions. As business owners we have also been faced with cutting or managing cost in IT yet wanting and needing to be more technology based because we must be competitive in the market, and we have all been forced to do more with fewer human resources. There is a razors edge between using technology to be more productive, streamlining work processes and building a cost control structure that becomes the invisible anchor around your companies’ neck.

The first step is to be honest with yourself, as a business owner you have to have more than just a desire not to hear about technology issues any longer, you must be willing to commit your time and financial resources to solving your company’s technology issues. If you have the expectation that anyone is going to be able to come in and simply make things better without your involvement and financial investment than you need to rethink that strategy. Secondly, really look at the needs of your business, most technology people do not have an understanding of business, they are great server technicians, or networking guys and valuable to your organization, but if you need a manager, hire a manager that can speak to you in the language of business, not in technological geek speak.

Managing an IT department requires some very specific skills which are rare in an industry full of technical, logical thinkers from a perspective of how to make it work, but being good at the technical areas of making things work does not translate into being a good Technical Manager. A good technical manager will not only have the educational background but the experience to measure technology success from a business perspective by measuring business impact, return on investment, long term budget impact along with being able to demonstrate and explain business value.

Changing the corporate approach to technology, as business owners we have to understand the difference between a business management decision verses what is a technology decision. I have worked with many companies who had the expectation that the IT department was going to understand the needs of the business, design a strategy to correct that shortcoming and then manage that process to completion. This expectation creates a huge gap in the skillsets required to enable the business and the technology to be successful. How do you fill this gap? This technology gap can be filled by enabling individual department heads to have more input and direction in the technology needs that impact their specific department, along with departmental control over their part of the technology budget.  This should provide a much tighter control over IT initiatives, more targeted results that are predictable, manageable and budgetable for the long term.

For those changing their corporate IT culture, there has been a kind of separation of church and state when it comes to the IT department and the rest of the business units. There seems to be a power struggle or vacuum within organizations when it comes to management of technology resources. It is important that whomever leads your IT department gain an understanding of the operations of the other departments. When I perform technology audits, or turnaround management of IT departments, a key component is to learn the operations, functions and the methodology in how the individual specific departments operate and how they use technology to integrate into the other areas of the business. If you really want to reach a high level of success with department integration, work process management with checks and balances, than you really have to have the culture that incorporates that thinking and those processes as the only way you do business. If you allow workarounds than you are defeating your corporate culture.

Forming an IT committee, one of the easiest ways to incorporate a good working relationship between IT and the other departments is the formulation of an IT steering committee. These committees can bring a lot of insight into the value proposition of what IT is bringing to the business, yet simultaneously provide immediate feedback and direction to the IT department on the overall priorities and challenges individual departments encounter. IT committees can be a challenge to manage, but with the right objectives and goals with measureable outcomes they can produce a high level of success with the overall technology initiatives and budget control.

The answer to whom is really driving your IT within your business, should be your department heads with the strategy coming from the ownership or CEO.  IT strategies should support and bring a cohesive work flow process to your business and support your overall business objectives and goals. IT should not be the driving force behind the strategy, which should come from the people you have hired to run and manage your business. However, do not underestimate or under value the importance of a quality technology manager, you will need someone to oversee the objectives, set priorities, set policies and guidelines and to push technology initiatives to a successful completion.  

Scott Lewis is the president and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies, an international technology management company. He has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker on technology subjects such as collocation, security, CIO-level management, data and voice communications, and best practices related to the management of technology resources.  Learn more about Winning Technologies at or call 877-379-8279.  
Submitted 8 years 278 days ago
Categories: categoryTechnology
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