I’m about to go off on a tangent just a bit here by proposing that you think about the whole technology piece in a much different light – not better or worse, just different.
I think it’s fair to say that technology – in whatever shape or form…advanced or simplistic – helps you to grow your business and get your job done. It’s also a fair statement that business across the globe would grind to a smoldering halt without technology.
So, why is it that we treat technology so poorly? Why do we neglect it? Why do we fail to effectively plan for such an integral part of producing our life’s work? If you’re employed by a large corporation, why is the IT department always downstairs or in the back of the building? Why does technology essentially get ‘left-overs’ from the budget? Why does the CIO always have to scratch and scrape for every dollar? Why is the ‘shelf-life’ of the average CIO less than 2 years?
I think I might know why.
There’s always been a rub between the ‘business’ side of the business and the technology side of the business. After all, we refer to businesses as, well…businesses – as if the business side of a company trumps all. It might be a little abstract but, if you think about it, it’s true.
The business team says: “Technology is a cost center – a necessary evil. We can’t see how it directly contributes to the bottom line like the sales department does so, we need it but we don’t like that we need it.”
The tech team says: “Are you kidding? This department is what makes the engine of this business hum! Without us, there wouldn’t BE a business.”
And, you know what? Both teams are right.
The short answer is… some things have to happen on both sides of the coin:
1) The business team needs to relax and give the tech team a chance to prove itself. A REAL chance. And, do this with the knowledge that not every department should be measured by the same set of standards. IT is different. We’ve known this for some time so get real. Instead of fighting it, accept it and then develop policies and procedures to measure IT success in an alternate way. Also, try to communicate the business’ goals WITHOUT using PowerPoint or Excel – be more creative. And, how about getting the tech team’s input into the direction of the business? You’ll get buy in every time. People support what they help to create.
2) The tech team needs to do a better job of tooting their own horn and demanding respect. You teach people how to treat you. The average small business has 100+ IT projects on the boards at the beginning of any given year. Cut that in half! Instead of giving a 50% effort across 100 projects, give 100% for all 50 projects. And then MAKE SURE that those 50 projects are in complete and total alignment with business goals.
Here’s the successful project track record for an average SMB:
- Total budget for IT = 3% of revenues
- Of that 3%, 20% goes toward projects that are supposed to create new value
- Of that 20%, 70% of the projects fail
- So, only 30% of projects that are supposed to create new value actually deliver
This is simply unacceptable.
The long answer is… HOW to get the above done while still turning a profit, growing the company and without totally and completely imploding.
I have some ideas – after all, that’s what I do for a living but, I’m interested in what you think.
P.S. If this is a struggle for you, don’t worry. I’ll be talking to professional service professionals about how to do just that on January 29th from 1:00 – 2:00pm, EST, on the weekly Biz Growth Live teleclass. Even if you aren’t a professional service professional, stop by…you just might learn something. If nothing else, you can take the assessment at this link and see how you’re doing with technology.