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3 min read

3 Major Mistakes Businesses Keep Making With Their IT Strategy

I see it all the time: Businesses create their strategic plan for the year where they lay out their goals and objectives for each department. It’s BEAUTIFUL, yet it gets derailed somewhere along the way and you wonder why these goals aren’t being met, or why it seems like the teams keep running into roadblocks.

Why is that?

IT management (or lack thereof) could be unintentionally sabotaging your plans.

1. Treating IT As An Afterthought

Often times executives forget to include the IT department (whether it’s in-house or outsourced) in their plans. It seems that the IT team is only brought into the discussion as an afterthought or when something related to the bits and bytes of IT comes up, such as moving computers, integrating a new application, or ensuring connectivity for new offices. This puts the IT department in reactive mode instead of proactive.

The IT Manager should be as integral to the planning process as the CFO. Engaging the IT leader early on ensures that all questions are answered, strategic information technology investments are made, downtime is minimized, surprise costs are not incurred, and business operations are impacted as little as possible.

2. Expecting One Person To Know Everything

Ten years ago, it was not uncommon to have one or two IT people at a company who pretty much knew everything about the organization’s technology and all of the available options. With the advancements in technology today, there’s no way one or two people can keep up!

Even the brightest of IT people need to rely on trusted advisors for support– whether that be assistance with researching options, handling end-user requests effectively, or performing critical routine maintenance to make sure your data is properly secured and backed up in case of a failure.

Outsourcing some or all IT functions is a cost-effective way for business executives to get the knowledge, extra hands, and accountability they need to get the results they want from IT.

3. Allowing Tools To Become Antiquated

Implementing new technology often brings new features designed to improve efficiency, visibility, and adoption within your organization - but they can be expensive and disruptive. Forced technology upgrades on the other hand are not nearly as exciting or glamourous, especially when you’ve run into a situation where you no longer have a choice.

I see a lot of businesses that choose not to keep their critical applications or hardware up-to-date. While staying conservative and waiting until you’re sure the new platforms are stable is respectable, waiting too long will have unintended consequences.

An Example...

A great example of this came from an industry contact who is a software vendor.

She recently worked with a customer of hers who had not upgraded any infrastructure or desktop tools since 2009 because there were no compelling reasons. When the business needed to upgrade some manufacturing equipment to satisfy the needs of its customers, it also meant that their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software needed to be upgraded.

Servers, workstations, and laptops needed to be upgraded to handle this software. The costs didn’t stop there because all of the supporting architecture from network infrastructure and security tools to other business tools integrated with that ERP.

It trickled all the way down to word processing applications on individual users’ computers, which also needed to be upgraded so that all tools were compatible with each other.

It had to be done because the success of their company was largely dependent upon these upgrades to their manufacturing - but the unanticipated complexity of the IT upgrades required tripled the cost of the project, and the speed at which the implementations needed to take place in order to satisfy this manufacturer’s customers caused many frustrations on the part of the end-users.

With proactive technology planning, situations like this shouldn’t arrive, but they will if the plan isn’t followed. Many businesses end up in these situations due to budget constraints, which is understandable, but there are some circumstances where the investment has to be made or it causes more expense and lost productivity in the long run.

Every business’s IT strategy is different, but when you create and execute the right plan for your organization, you’d be amazed at the great results you can achieve.

As featured in the July 31 issue of The Press-Enterprise

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