ZDNet recently published an article, “Forget strategy, IT managers are too busy fighting fires,” that describes what day-to-day life is like for IT managers. Author Colin Barker writes that rather than focusing on innovation, embracing new technology, or growing their businesses, IT leaders spend most of their time fighting fires.
Fire-fighting, keeping the lights on, bailing water out of the boat—the metaphors matter much less than what they point to: the loss of the spirit of innovation that gave birth to IT in the first place. Almost half of those surveyed identified supporting their company’s basic IT operations as their primary job activity. Barker also notes that 33 per cent list cutting costs/cost management as central to their jobs.
These two startling facts give rise to a question: How is effective cost management that supports business growth even possible if your daily tech focus is to keep things running? This kind of cost management just isn’t likely to break that fire-fighting trend. So how can IT leaders extract themselves from this dilemma?
1. Think about IT spend long-term and strategically—the same way you think about business goals. Realizing the goals laid out in your three- or five-year strategic plan will become easier if you have the technology infrastructure and services in place to do more than simply manage the day-to-day. Invest in infrastructure and services that will support your strategic goals instead of inhibiting them.
2. Perform an IT/telecom spend audit. A formal audit, done either in-house or outsourced to specialists, will help you get a clear and detailed picture of where and how your organization currently spends its money. You’ll likely find that unnecessary costs have been growing due to unused services, outdated infrastructure, and inefficient and duplicate processes. Discovering where you can legitimately cut costs without undermining still valuable infrastructure and programs will open up possibilities for smart investments elsewhere.
3. Spend the money you save to build your future. An audit can form the basis for a technology spend overhaul that will move you away from fire-fighting and towards business innovation. The effective IT leaders of both the near and longer terms will be those who find the opportunities for advancing their business goals through optimizing their IT spend.
Re-evaluating how you invest in technology today can lead to more strategic IT investments tomorrow. And this can help make sure that your talented IT team isn’t just putting out fires, but is also using their invaluable skills to drive innovation and productivity.
How else might you begin moving away from IT damage control to get back to innovating?