A business owner or CEO has varying responsibilities, but most management activities boil down to the same key functions: remove potential roadblocks to company success and ensure that your team has all of the appropriate resources to be effective. Even though your managers are responsible for most day-to-day operations, sometimes you realize: They are not equipped to handle everything.
What happens when a complicated IT matter arises and you and your team have no idea where to begin? Before you waste too much time “trying to fix” your IT issues on your own, take the time to evaluate and fully understand the root causes. Does your company have the people, processes and technology in place to get you to your business goals? The answer might be: “No, we don’t!”
Your People Might Be Underutilized
Prior to analyzing your IT team, take a look in the mirror. How can you boost your knowledge of the IT world to better run your company and guide your team? You don’t have to be able to write the next hit iPhone app, but you’d certainly benefit from being privy to the technology options and support features available to businesses like yours.
There are plenty of books, online workshops and courses that serve as valuable resources for managing technology and mastering “systems thinking.” Once you have a firm grasp of technology management, it’s time to start assessing your team. Do you even have the right internal resources? Are you asking someone who builds websites to manage your IT infrastructure? Make sure your priorities are allowing your people to focus on what they do well, and then find someone who excels at providing IT support to keep your company moving forward.
The Problem Might Be In The Process
If you’re getting inconsistent or unexpected results associated with delivering your products or services, you may suspect that your technology is broken. Before jumping to that conclusion, you should know that there are other causes of unpredictable results. Work backwards through your process to discover the root cause of the problem – and you may be surprised to find that the issue is not technology-based at all.
For example, it’s possible that there is a systemic misalignment within your process, whether it’s technological or team-initiated, and it needs to be fixed. Perhaps a procedure wasn’t followed or data was entered incorrectly. Now your technology is “misinformed” and reporting inaccurately. It’s up to you and your team to pinpoint the cause of the break and treat it. Understanding the cause of a broken process enables you to guide your team in getting the process back on track.
Your Process Might Be Inefficient
Just because you make it through the day without any major IT issues doesn’t mean all of your business processes are super efficient. Simple inefficiencies here and there have the potential to snowball and turn seemingly basic tasks into big undertakings. Consider ways to streamline your workflow, and then challenge your IT team to adapt technology accordingly. Some of them may already possess the knowledge and skills needed to take on this challenge. But try to recognize when they might be in over their heads, and consider outside expertise. In the long run, it will be less expensive and won't delay you in getting to your goals.
Your Technology Might Not Be Optimized
Similar to addressing process issues, when it comes to your technology, ask yourself: Is it truly broken or is it simply working below desired levels? For example, have you completely lost Internet access or are you simply experiencing lag time when trying to access a file or application? A complete loss of service means something is broken, whereas lag time indicates a performance issue.
Make sure you consider how long these issues have been going on and how much they are affecting your business. Many times, business owners underestimate or are unaware of the full impact that something simple like slow Internet access has across all areas of the business. This could be costing you a significant amount of money. This understanding sets you and your team on the path to a working solution.
Always Ask Why
A good manager knows that before you’re able to fix a problem, you have to identify the root cause. To do so, you need to be asking why. Like a domino effect, each answer brings you one step closer to the right solution. Never stop questioning, and you’ll eventually uncover the root cause behind many of your IT issues. Once you do that, it’s easy to be proactive in finding the best solutions.
When your company is suffering from technological limitations, take a step back, evaluate and don’t hesitate to ask for help. When you hand off challenging issues to a professional IT support team and work with them to streamline your system, you save yourself time and provide a much sturdier platform for your company or business.