IT Management in 3 Phases

Take charge of your company’s IT management, or your information technology will take charge of you. Think of the computer “HAL” in the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” HAL ends up in the driver’s seat because no one properly manages his deployment.

Many of us already feel controlled by our technology. One need look no further than the last technology-gone-wrong instance to verify how frustrating it can be, or how powerless we feel. This is where IT services in Colorado can help ease your frustrations.

In any IT management program, there are three interdependent areas to address: Front Office (what technology and deployment plan is needed to support organization productivity and growth goals); Back Office (functional technology to achieve identified goals); and Strategy (the plan developed from Front and Back Office assessments, and overall business goals). Small businesses not addressing and dealing with all three areas upfront are asking for heavyweight IT management troubles. Let’s look at each:

IT management in the front office

Look at what your business is doing and how it is doing it. What workflow processes are in place? How can they be improved and crystallized? Do you have the right technology tools and applications to meet workflow needs? Do users have the right skill sets to execute needed tasks with the right tools in place?

Based on a full Front Office analysis, patterns will emerge that dictate Back Office technology solutions. You may find that workflows are adequate and people are performing well, but that the tech system is unstable, slow, crashes constantly or is spyware-infested.

IT management for the Front Office typically exposes shortcomings of ill-fitting technology solutions. For example, much of an IT system’s customization is designed to provide competitive edge. Adopting stock answers, such as some SaaS platforms, can eliminate that competitive edge. Without customizing to effect competitive advantage, your system has the same strengths and weaknesses as any other company employing the same stock solution. This is why much of Colorado chooses alternative IT service options.

IT Services Colorado: Managing the back office

Front Office findings should drive all Back Office technology setup. Back Office will review critical areas that support Front Office performance. Does the company have the right switching technologies? What do we do to keep the system running? Are we running system backups every night? Are we running out of disk space? Back Office must address technology to meet today’s needs, and plan for tomorrow’s.

Often, Back Office becomes encumbered by management mandates to implement the “latest, greatest” industry development. Any “stock IT application”–such as SaaS– not tailored to specific Front Office needs will limit effectiveness, and may jeopardize the entire technology program.

To develop the best Back Office solutions, employ competent, credentialed technicians who can back up system recommendations with facts and who can prove previous experience with implementations similar to your challenge.

This is not the place to hire that affable, charming person you met on the golf course–without empirical proof of competency and trustworthiness. Look for clear definition of scope, deadlines and costs.

IT Services: IT strategy

A “rough cut” strategic plan will emerge from a clearly defined Front Office and Back Office evaluation. Present all of this to management, get their feedback, then create a solid, refined Strategic Plan incorporating all pertinent issues and perspectives.

Often, it is in this process that management advocates ill-fitting Back Office solutions that are great buzzwords, but may cripple the overall process. SaaS should be included only if it fulfills a company’s needs, not because the CEO wants to brag about his company’s state-of-the-art technology.

Next, inform employees, then enlist input and buy-in from them. This is critical. An article in the October 2005 Harvard Business Review states that, “On average, 95 percent of employees are unaware of or do not understand the organization’s strategy. This probably explains why…around 90 percent of strategies fail to be carried out successfully.”

Once the plan is finalized: a) develop impactful, easily understood visuals to reinforce it company-wide (and repeat key messages often); b) train early and often (get feedback about how well the training takes, and adjust as needed); c) get the best advice you can find inside and/or outside your company, to make sure it’s properly and thoroughly implemented; d) follow through, even after the initial excitement disappears (this includes higher-ups who often expect to wave a wand and walk away); and e) develop and maintain a management system to ensure ongoing success and alignment with objectives (and review it annually to institute changes as warranted).

Faltering on any step substantially increases failure rates, and may leave you with one “HAL” of a problem.

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