Firstly, a big thanks to the feedback from my last post Every IT Manager is 5yrs out of date, as with this one, it is not to insult my fellow IT managers, nor rely solely on clickbait to draw you in. It’s strange how with around a year out of the IT Manager driving seat, and the ability to reflect on 2-3 customer meetings per week, I find myself thinking more about what the cause of previous challenges really were.
An IT Manager’s reality is all too often so far away from strategy that in some positions I have worked in, it almost becomes a standing (if not sadly ironic) joke. In many cases, BAU not only makes up more than 80-90% of the deployed tasks but is a mask for an almost accepted regime of firefighting. Whilst organisations have been trying to balance this for many years, they all too regularly have failed not due to effort, but the deployment of the resources.
To help with firefighting we have ITIL, a framework that has helped us temper the businesses lack of understanding of BAU delivery. ITIL puts a transparent process around much of the day job, ensuring that when there is not enough time to solve all the problems, the most urgent ones are done first. There is no doubt this approach has helped business and IT Departments find a common language to interact and communicate, but while often the service has improved, it is at the cost of the continual service improvement. IT project personnel are often found in deployment tasks, but less so in the improvement process.
The issue is not a framework or process, it’s time. No, not the number of hours in the day, but what we are doing with those hours. The issue most of us have is we are solving the most urgent problems we have as a business (keeping the lights on), before we solve the most important (building a more flexible and agile environment). Now, this is important;
Strategy becomes like a one-off purchase in a football team, we solve the goal scoring capability immediately with the budget in hand, now if only we had the midfield players to feed him a winning ball, in simple terms Strategy deferred in place of BAU and so focus is lost on the end game and naturally what follows is a concentration on the small plays, rather than the season. Buy the on-point player, rather than build the team, fix an issue quickly, not spend long hours working on a problem.
…. I know there is a voice in your head right now telling you that in today’s business the strategy is either ever-changing or not really understood. My answer to that voice is; then start with IT strategy.
A good strategy is a result of a lot of analysis and understanding of the business. Delivery requires strong IT leadership with senior stakeholders working closely with business and finance departments, as well as the business managers who are running the areas of your company that deliver the end product (let’s not forget the commercials of the overall business). Let’s not forget those users who all want to use their own device, work from home and expect always-on IT.
To have even half a chance of building a strategy and sowing the seeds of the future direction, decisions around everything from the budget to operational weakness needs to be understood. In simple terms, SWOT the hell out of everything. Understand real costs and understand what is happening without trying to translate everything into BAU then following up by translating it back to the services that the business offers. In simple terms we don’t want as usual, we want to disrupt and build a better future…. A strategy is an evolution, not just living.
Like most IT Managers - you have enough on your plate already. The challenges extend on a daily basis to much more than strategy and waiting to the point of renewal or purchase to try and discuss the present and want needs to happen in the future is a daunting task, especially if you want to have the discussion with more than one vendor, the good news, is you have help.
Bechtle customers have an open invitation for a day’s strategy workshop where we support the day with technical presales resource in all of the major pillars that you are concerned about with the idea to break away from the urgent and focus on the important - so take away what you want to buy to what you need to achieve, with certified industry experts to make sure you are getting the best advice.
We also hold quarterly business reviews where we steer away from budget and talk about technology and the changing requirements of your business. A couple of months ago one of these conversations saw us actively dissuading a customer from spending £80k on a backup solution solely focussed on reducing their RTO (restore time objective) as it transpired that their important was the quality, frequency and complexity of their backups, rendering the urgency of the restore time a BAU problem which should/could be solved in a much more strategic way.
Why not add me to your team today so we can talk about what’s important to your business while we solve the urgent issues in the process?
Phone: +44 1249 467957