Using the right IT tools can make a world of difference when it comes to operating your business successfully. They help you to be more efficient and productive, protect your data and systems, respond quickly to both opportunities and threats, and provide a more enjoyable work experience — among many other things.
Often, however, IT tools and business goals are mismatched — are yours? In this third installment of our IT and business goal alignment series, we discuss the five most common areas of misalignment:
1. Tools that get in the way
The first hint that your IT tools and business goals might be misaligned is if you have to wait for something. IT exists to make your life easier and more efficient, not frustrating. Let’s say your IT staff typically handles requests for IT troubleshooting via email and voicemail. If your IT staff is struggling to meet everyone’s needs quickly and effectively using those tools, then they need to look at different service management tools — you probably don’t want someone’s work grinding to a halt because he or she is playing phone tag with IT. Tools that identify who is having problems, prioritize current issues and include real-time communication features are the ones that solve problems faster, which makes everyone happier as they better align with your business objectives.
2. Tools that are not monitored
Even tools that are the best in the world at solving IT problems aren’t worth much if they’re not being used properly. No matter how much you spend on a tool, having skilled personnel to run it is equally important. That’s why, for example, it’s common to find that companies have invested in best-of-breed security tools (often to handle a compliance issue) but haven’t invested in hiring or training the staff needed to run it effectively. Monitoring things like permissions tracking reports and anomaly detection notifications need to be woven into the normal work process or the information they provide goes to waste. This can be especially painful if something bad happens — even though the data was right there under your nose. Absorb and use those great tools in the way they were intended and you’ll transform a mismatch into a business benefit.
3. Tools that are out of date
Change is hard but not changing is worse. If your company is running apps that are difficult to patch or support, there’s a mismatch between your tools and your business goals — unless one of your business goals is to create more work and risk! Kidding aside, there are plenty of reasons that companies make do with using out-of-date apps and tools. Updating can create ripple effects across the IT ecosystem that may seem expensive or disruptive, for example. But in comparison to what a company may be suffering in terms of risks, stagnation and competitive disadvantages, updating your old IT tools — especially legacy mainframe apps — updating to current tools that match your current business goals is your best long-term strategy.
4. Tools that have workarounds
How easy is it for your IT team to integrate new platforms with your existing tools? If the integration process involves IT having to deal with the custom workarounds they’ve developed over the years to manage this or that problem, it’s a good indication your tools and goals have become mismatched. Tools that are meeting your current business needs should function elegantly, without workarounds, and should not be a roadblock incorporating new tools that can grow your business. Tools with custom fixes can also be difficult or impossible to patch, especially the older they get — eventually you’ll have to pull off the duct tape and fix it properly (hopefully that won’t happen when you’re super or in the middle of a new opportunity). Well-matched IT tools play nicely with others.
5. Tools that are proprietary or personnel driven
The more you customize your tools, the more you limit the number of people who can manage them. If your IT team has been writing custom platforms and apps, and especially if they’ve been doing it for years, you will eventually face gaps between your business goals and what your IT tools can accomplish. Often your team also becomes attached to its own inventions — of course! They built them to solve whatever IT problems the organization was facing at the time, but when the problem you’re now facing is a mismatch between your organization’s goals and what your IT tools can accomplish, it’s time to bring the two into alignment. Usually this means updating to modern, proven and (yes) off-the-shelf tools that scale easily, along with the training needed to run them. For your IT budget and tools to be in alignment, only develop your own software when it will give you a business advantage.
Team, process and budgets
With the right tools in place along with the right IT team and IT processes and procedures, which we discussed over the past couple of months, you are well on your way to having total alignment between your IT operation and your business goals. Now you need the right IT budget to complete the circle. See our last installment of this series about budgets here or access the complete Leapfrog TechBrief: How To Determine If Your IT Is Aligned With Your Business Objectives here and in our Resources section.
At Leapfrog, our goal is to help clients meet their business objectives. Using proven IT tools that best match the needs of each client is an important part of our service. We have experience with a huge inventory of tools, the cloud services to run them and the trained staff to manage them. Perhaps more importantly, we have hundreds of clients who use thousands of different apps every day — and we can connect you with them so you can discuss how well they’re working. Our clients appreciate the extra help making informed decisions! If you’re interested in finding out more about aligning your IT tools with your business objectives, please give us a call.
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