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How to Transform the IT Department from Stalled to Smooth Sailing

“I just don’t feel like we’re moving forward,” is a phrase I hear from business executives a lot. When they’re talking about their company’s information technology (IT), that’s a bad sign. They know that it’s important to their future success, but they feel stuck – like there isn’t a lot of progress happening.

Management of your IT department might be unintentionally holding your company back.

Here’s why.

Top 3 Reasons the IT Department Is Stuck

1. The IT Department is Just Staying Afloat

The ideal IT department is strategic – a visionary department helping advance your company’s goals. One that looks for opportunities to reduce issues. Plus, sees where technology could save time, increase margins, reduce lead times, and/or improve customer satisfaction.

The challenge: most IT departments are set up to be reactive rather than proactive. They’re seen as worker bees – fixing problems as they come up and keeping everything humming along.

Ten years ago, that’s all that most businesses needed. Today, it’s a different story.

IT folks are still tasked with keeping everything running, but the job has expanded. Technology has advanced. The amount of knowledge executives expect from an individual “IT person” has reached an unattainable level. This makes the department look like nothing is getting done.

To some degree, it’s probably true.

Resources are occupied with fixing problems reported by employees, dodging one issue after another. Adding strategy to their plate is something that they can’t even fathom.

When companies invest in the right in-house and/or outsourced IT support resources, IT departments can go from a bottleneck to an asset.

2. Communication Barrier – IT and Executives are at an Impasse

There’s an interesting dynamic between IT personnel and business leaders. In many cases, they aren’t sharing a common goal. Leadership considers metrics like sales numbers and manufacturing costs, while technologists are considering server performance and integration tools.

In these situations, both parties end up in a stalemate. IT hasn’t presented the case for more resources or different systems in a way that makes sense, so owners won’t invest. Both parties just end up frustrated.

Having a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who can think strategically and communicate how technology solves business problems is an invaluable asset. These people speak business! They investigate technologies for all departments, identifying opportunities to improve the bottom line.

3. Ownership Doesn’t See the Value in IT

Investment in technology changes entire industries. From the ways we market products and services, to the ways that we manage shipping and support. Everything is becoming more automated and efficient. This is great news for those who recognize that these new tools will change their business.

Without interest or investment in technology, thriving companies of today will cease to exist in the future. And someone else in their industry will feel the boom of success.

Successful companies will give business technology professionals a “seat at the table” to foster company goals. Educated on existing barriers, and empowered to make recommendations on tools to remove those barriers. Most of all, executives must be willing to become educated. This will drive business forward.

As featured in August 27th issue of The Press-Enterprise.

Related: Tech Girl: Didn't Know Better IT Support Results Were Even Possible

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