7 Critical Points of IT Wisdom for Business Leaders
SOME THINGS make sense when you are in the middle of them, but without a point of reference, they make no sense at all. If you are a woodworker, you understand the incredible power of glue done right. When properly clamped, dowelled, and glued, boards become a tabletop. If you haven’t experienced steak made with the sous vide cooking method, submersing your meat in water sounds a little crazy. However, once you have tasted it, you understand why.
Many shy away from technology. After all, if one doesn’t keep up, it can quickly embarrass us. It is constantly changing and filled with acronyms; even when you know what you are talking about, it can catch you off guard. As a business leader, IT often falls under our control at some level. We either have an outsourced IT provider or an internal team. Ultimately, we are responsible for managing our IT well.
How is IT like steak and glue? Well, with some wisdom, IT can be well managed, and the different concepts begin to make some sense.
HERE ARE 7 CRITICAL POINTS OF IT WISDOM:
1) Cloud is NOT an all-or-nothing decision. This misconception comes up often. Many think that moving IT to the cloud is a necessity for everything. The problem with this point of view is that, most often, only some of your software and computing resources are truly suited for the cloud. Certain things are appropriately priced and function in a way that the cloud is the right solution. Other things moving to the cloud prove very expensive, often failing to function well. A hybrid solution is usually right. In addition, moving to the cloud should be done in stages. Move email, move a specific application, move files and folders, but don’t do it all at once. Take steps to the cloud over time, then phase out servers and equipment at your next cycle. Taking a stepped approach creates a much smoother experience than pushing everything there at once.
2) DON’T Cloud Host on your IT provider’s private cloud. I want to underline and bold this repeatedly. You might love and trust your IT provider entirely now, but people change, ownership changes, and service declines. When you have your servers and infrastructure in your IT provider’s data center, it is expensive, time-consuming, and creates downtime to migrate away. Your provider holds the keys to everything, and their level of cooperation or lack of it can ultimately impact your operations. Cloud hosting on a public cloud like Microsoft, Google, or Amazon is safer, and there are ways to migrate this hosting from the control of one IT provider to another. We are working with several companies in this situation; the pain is real!
3) Before you insure, secure. Cybersecurity insurance companies have added stringent requirements for things like multifactor authentication, encryption, advanced protection software, and more. They also include significant exclusions in their policies. Many won’t provide insurance unless you meet these requirements, or they will charge extra if you are not. These measures reduce your risk, so the insurance companies insist you do them. Regardless of whether you purchase cyber insurance, these IT security measures are worth it. Make sure you invest in advanced security measures and step up your protection. Think of it like installing an advanced alarm system after hearing that break-ins frequently happen in your neighborhood. While insurance has its place, protecting yourself from the event is far better.
4) Every $1 spent on automation will multiply. Automating office tasks is often overlooked. We are busy doing our thing, particularly if we have great employees keeping things running smoothly. We don’t look closely at things like office workflow. Sometimes simple things like automatically emailing invoices or using a shared mailbox can produce great results. If these things are done, maybe it is time to take a step back and look at your workflow. How does work move from one person to another? How do quote approvals happen? How long does it take for a customer to get a quote? How manual is onboarding an employee? What is required to track a new production order? Time and again, I have seen that analyzing workflow and applying the right tools pays back exponentially.
5) Technology decisions are short-term. Obvious, right? After all, innovation happens at warp speed these days. Often it is hard to train our minds to think shorter term. Just a few quick pointers:
- Don’t overbuy hardware that will be cheaper in 2-4 years when you do need it. Conversely, don’t skimp on critical systems that will allow you to grow to save a few dollars.
- Re-evaluate often. Don’t let that IT thing go without replacing it. Upgrade and replace. Set review parameters so that it does not get forgotten.
- No long-term contracts. Don’t sign up for a 5-year contract on something that will change in less than two years. Rarely is a more than 3-year contract appropriate.
- Increments are okay. Buy the part of the system you will implement this year, and then buy the rest next year when you have time to finish the implementation.
6) Understand your disaster recovery metrics. Talk to your IT resource about how long it takes to recover a single file or folder, how long to recover from a complete server failure, and how long to recover from a complete site failure. Make sure your expectations and your provider’s answers agree. There are solutions to shorten any downtime scenario, so be sure to address any disagreement with the appropriate solution to keep you safe and running in the event of a failure.
7) Develop a leader’s perspective on technology. It is not uncommon to abdicate our responsibility for IT to someone else. We are busy. We are uncomfortable. We don’t want to get bogged down in the details. However, as business leaders, we need to know about our technology. We need to understand the impact of technology decisions on our daily operations. If you are uncomfortable with technology, make sure that you have a trusted resource. It is helpful to have someone whose advice, direction, and counsel you trust. IT is just too critical to push it to the side. Making sure that it jives with your business goals is vital.
Technology is such a key part of daily operations; it is essential to integrate some wise IT principles into our decision-making. With an adjusted point of reference, these principles can help guide us to the right decision for our company’s growth and well-being.
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, a Brookfield IT support company that has been helping businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.