Honestly, this is a tough and elusive question. Each business has different values, cultures, goals and purpose. One of the primary objectives of IT Leadership is to build and implement a Continuance Improvement model. We submit the following approach for your consideration:
- Discover, document and define business/stakeholder needs.
- Review current direction and governance.
- Build a plan.
- Equip and implement.
- Operate and maintain.
- Monitor and report.
- Measure, evaluate and refine to meet business needs.
Don’t we all wish for quick and easy fixes! Unfortunately, we have not found that magic wand that lets us reset and start over. It is our observation that most IT departments and systems have grown organically with no longer-term strategic plans. What started out as a cost center, tossed under the “general office” category and managed by whoever had the time has now grown into a beast that must provide direct and immediate value to a business’ productivity and bottom line. Transforming this beast can be a painstaking adventure.
We will definitely keep looking for that magic wand. But in the meantime, tomorrow is defined by the actions we take today. No more procrastinating. Let’s get started.
Admittedly, most of the time enPower gets called is when frustrations are high and things are on the line. Business owners are exasperated by endless techno-jabber and increasing IT costs with fuzzy accountability metrics that produce unknown results. On the other hand, IT departments are equally burdened with the pressures of maintaining daily operations, defending against the latest security threats and navigating compliance regulations while understaffed and underfunded. It is when this disparity between owners and their IT staff gets too great that the need for IT Leadership is realized.
IT Leadership can help bridge those gaps. However, it is not just for failing businesses or IT departments. Done well, IT Leadership provides long-term strategic planning and guidance that can prevent those gaps from developing.
Wading through regulations is a necessary evil when diving into IT Leadership. The first step is understanding the difference between compliance and governance.
IT Compliance refers to a set of defined guidelines, sourced outside the business, that require IT systems, design and/or processes to comply. PCI and HIPAA are both examples of compliance regulations.
IT Governance refers to the responsibility and mindset of aligning IT resources to stakeholder values. ITIL and Cobit 5 are popular examples of governance frameworks with different objectives.
vCIO has become the latest buzz word generated by the Managed Service Providers (MSPs) industry. The IT services delivered by many MSPs have almost become a commodity, solely focused on the technical aspects of hardware/software reselling, project hours and technical support. In order to drive value beyond this, the concept of a vCIO was created. In theory, vCIOs act as outsourced IT Directors. In reality, many vCIOs were Account Managers who have been elevated to the vCIO status. And while those vCIOs may prove helpful and can assist with managing the basic IT needs of a business, true IT Leadership is much more involved.
IT Leadership at its core focuses on understanding vision to best provide strategic direction and aligning IT services to accomplish the values and objectives of stakeholders. IT Leaders take the time to truly learn about an organization. They learn its long-term business goals, not just the goals the IT Department. They know the key players and understand the policies, procedures and regulations that govern the business. They are are focused on all this, while being aware of security and protecting the people and data that make the business.
IT Leaders are understand what it takes to run your business, not just today and tomorrow, but next year and into the future. No offense to our IT friends and partners, but this is a big leap for most Account Managers.